But no. By my count there have been something like a hundred English-language translations, and not just by scholars but by blue-chip poets: in the past half century, John Ciardi, Allen Mandelbaum, Robert Pinsky, W. Liszt and Tchaikovsky have composed music about the poem; Chaucer, Balzac, and Borges have written about it. In other words, the Divine Comedy is more than a text that professors feel has to be brushed up periodically for students.
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Given the limitations of space and study-time, I shall confine myself to one: the curious view that John Ciardi is the superior translator. Carne-Ross begins his comparison of the two by citing Paradiso II, 31—42 in both versions. Pareva a me che nube ne coprisse Lucida, spessa, solida e polita, Quasi adamante che lo sol ferisse. It seemed to me that we were covered by a brilliant, solid, dense, and stainless cloud, much like a diamond that the sun has struck.
Into itself, the everlasting pearl received us, just as water will accept a ray of light and yet remain intact. If I was body and on earth we can not see how things material can share one space—the case, when body enters body , then should the longing be still more inflamed to see that Essence in which we discern how God and human nature were made one. Mandelbaum It seemed to me a cloud as luminous and dense and smoothly polished as a diamond struck by a ray of sun enveloped us.
We were received into the elements of the eternal pearl as water takes light to itself, with no change in its substance. If I was body nor need we in this case conceive how one dimension can bear another, which must be if two bodies fill one space the more should my desire burn like the sun to see that essence in which one may see how human nature and God blend into one.
But I do; and some comparisons. If liberties are to be taken in such lines as this, they must convey their meaning. Mandelbaum conveys it. In line 37 Ciardi makes a garble of qui non si concepe here one does not conceive.
The sense is simple and essential and again Mandelbaum knows and conveys it. Honor the Prince of Poets, the soul and glory that went from us returns. He is here! Indeed, Ciardi never hesitates to revise and embellish Dante to fill out a pentameter. It is true, of course, that pentameter lords it in both translations not difficult to see why , and that both struggle to escape, each in its own way, the terrible temptation of iambics.
I did nothing of the sort. To complain, as Brandeis does, that Ciardi fails to render the full sense of the original here and there misses the thrust of my review, which is no great matter. What does matter is the misunderstanding about the nature of translation which her letter reveals. She is evidently one of those, all too common in the academic community, who believe that bad or at best mediocre verse is an acceptable stand-in for great poetry so long as it provides the point-for-point correspondence to the original which allows the instructor to hold forth.
For that, you must go to a straight prose version, which in the case of Dante means Singleton or the Temple Classics edition. A poetic translation is always going to take its liberties, of omission, addition, substitution.
It must do so to live. I was writing with the general reader in mind who may sometimes be a student , someone who cares for poetry and lacking languages must rely on translation. If he is wise enough to check the translation against a good prose crib, something essential will come across.
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View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: W. This single volume, blank verse translation of The Divine Comedy includes an introduction, maps of Dante's Italy, Hell, Purgatory, Geocentric Universe, and political panorama of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century, diagrams and notes providing the reader with invaluable guidance. Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise-the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation. One of the greatest works in literature, Dantes story-poem is an allegory that represents mankind as it exposes itself, by its merits or demerits, to the rewards or the punishments of justice.
What the Hell
They both occupy singularly definitive places in their respective languages and literatures as well as in world literature, Kleiner suggested, and indeed no less a critical personage than T. There is no third. Milton also made complex uses of theology as political allegory, and wrote political tracts as passionate and resolute as his poetry. Unlike the English poet and defender of regicide, however, Dante was a strict monarchist who even went so far as to propose a global monarchy under Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII. And while Milton veiled his political references in allegorical symbolism, Dante boldly named his adversaries in his poem, and subjected them to grisly, inventive tortures in his vivid depiction of hell. In addition to cataloguing the number of classical and mythological characters Dante encounters in his infernal sojourn, we must wade through pages of contextual notes to find out who various contemporary characters were, and why they have been condemned to their respective levels and torments.