'It is impossible to say just what I mean!' Prufrock's frustration in Eliot's celebrated poem underlines the pessimistic view of language at the heart of much Modernist poetry. Locating the greatest Italian poet of the twentieth century, Eugenio Montale, firmly within European Modernism, thisbook examines the struggle with language that is central to his work. What can a poet do when words fail him? Does he put down his pen, retreat into silence? Does he seek instead to push language towards its limits, and, if so, what tools can he employ? What part does metaphor, the via negativa,allusive or understated writing have in this process? These are just some of the issues that Clodagh J. Brook seeks to address. In its unravelling of the inexpressibility paradox, her book offers a new reading of Montale's early verse, and reveals how in articles and metapoetic comments Montalegives us insights into both his poetics and the whole process of expression.