Dante’s Inferno – A Modern Rendition

“With your kindest indulgence, Dear Reader, I wish to interpret the work
of the Poet, embracing his views and perceptions. At times if through quirk
or ineptness the rendering fails to achieve any part of this task,

you’ll excuse my attempt to extrapolate, gently, respectfully, filled
with appropriate zeal, a degree of contemporization instilled
in the quest for connections with centuries past. This is all that I ask.

[. . .]

This poetic interpretation of Dante’s Inferno seeks to maintain much of the original intent of the work while updating it with carefully veiled references to current-day political and economic issues. It is written in classical poetic form, with strict anapestic hexameter meter and an ‘aabccb‘ rhyming scheme. Accent marks have been added to the first appearance of many mythical names to assist the reader with pronunciation.”    –Paul, DanteInferno.org


Að þýða Dante

“Á haustdögum kom út þýðing Einars Thoroddsen á Víti eftir ítalska skáldið Dante Alighieri. Bræðurnir Einar og Jón Thoroddsen ræða um glímuna við að staðfæra Gleðileik Dantes yfir í íslenska ljóðahefð. Verða lesnir kaflar úr Víti og þýðingar úr ýmsum tungumálum bornar saman við frumtexta. Einnig mun Sólveig Thoroddsen leika á ítalska barokkhörpu.

Þýðingin á Víti Dantes er ein sex bóka sem tilnefndar eru til Íslensku þýðingarverðlaunanna sem veitt verða í febrúar næstkomandi. Dómnefndin segir um þýðingu Einars Thoroddsen á Víti Dantes, í ritstjórn Jóns Thoroddsen: ‘Gleðileikurinn guðdómlegi eftir Dante Alighieri er eitt áhrifamesta bókmenntaverk allra tíma. Fyrsti hluti þessa sjöhundruð ára gamla söguljóðs, Víti, birtist nú í fyrsta skipti í heild sinni í bundnu máli á íslensku. Áralöng glíma þýðandans, Einars Thoroddsen, við ítalska rímformið, tersínuháttinn, sem hann setur sér að vinna eftir, er virðingarverð og reynir verulega á þanþol tungumálsins. Þótt þýðandinn beri ætíð virðingu fyrir upprunaverkinu verður þýðingin á köflum gáskafull og fjörug með óvæntum og oft grínaktugum tilvísunum í íslenskan sagnaarf og þjóðsögur.'”    —Stofnun Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur í Erlendum Tungumálum, January 29, 2019

Reviewed: Dante’s Divine Comedy by Ian Thomson

“Ian Thomson’s eclectic and erudite romp through the work of Dante Alighieri – born in Florence in 1265, died in Ravenna in 1321 – features sharp observations and piquant elucidations concerning Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) and its author.

“Thomson sets the tone from the off, beginning with an amusing epigraph which ran in Private Eye in December 2017, a `Very Late News’ about how the 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri and how he would be glad to see the back of that year, saying  ‘Phew, I’ve been trapped in this circle of hell for so long, I can’t wait to get out of it.’

“As for the matter in hand, this welcome book – whose subtitle is A Journey Without End  – is no skit, despite the Private Eye reference. Dorothy L Sayers offers a more relevant reflection on the work of the great Florentine in another epigraph to the work. ‘To understand Dante is not, of course, necessary to believe what he believed, but it is, I think, necessary to understand what he believed.’

“There have been myriad translations in English of Divina Commedia including a recent offering from Clive James, which appears to have won some and lost some fans – a quote from Ciaran Carson’s version is favoured instead for the back cover.” […]    –Paddy Kehoe, RTE, January 14, 2019

For more, consult the reviews of Thomson’s work in The Guardian, The Spectator, and Church Times.

Extracts from Alasdair Gray’s New Translation of Dante

“DANTE writes that at the age of 35, exactly half way through the 70 years the Bible tells us is the span of human life, he found himself lost in a dark wood, and that his way out was barred by three fierce animals – a leopard, a lion and a wolf. The wood is a symbol for the state of sin in which Dante believed himself to have fallen, and the animals may be specific sins – lust, arrogance and avarice, although the meanings are disputed.

“As Dante flounders about, he is approached by a shadow who turns out to be Virgil, the great poet of ancient Rome, who tells him he has been dispatched by saints in heaven to aid him. Virgil will be Dante’s ‘Guide, Lord and Master,’ as Alasdair Gray puts it. The only passable route will take him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, where he will end up before the throne of God.” […]    –Alasdair Gray and Joseph Farrell, The National, October 7, 2018

Inferno edition by Easton Press


Translation by Clive James

Illustrations by Marc Burckhardt

Easton Press

Translation of The Divine Comedy with Illustrations (2007)

translation-divine-comedy-illustrations-2007“This new edition of Dante’s great work brings together for the first time the three volumes of the Hollander translation with the art of internationally recognized illustrator Monika Beisner. Beisner has created 100 detailed paintings for this publication, making her the first woman credited with illustrating the entire work. The set begins with an introduction by Carlo Carena and a foreword by Academy Award winning actor Roberto Benigni, known for his lectures and dramatic recitations of Dante’s poem. The third volume ends with an appreciation by writer and cultural historian Marina Warner entitled ‘Monika Beisner: Illuminating Stories.’ Warner writes, ‘The hundred miniatures took her seven years to complete and the achievement is dazzling. The present volume reproduces her work full-size, … with no strokes or drawing visible, but a pure glow of dense color, applied with brushes so small they consist of a half-dozen sable hairs.… Monika Beisner has been scrupulously loyal to Dante’s text, rendering gesture and position as described in the poem as well as its unsurpassed precision of spatial, geographical and temporal coordinates.’ ” [. . .]    —Oak Knoll Press

Inferno Rap Translation by Hugo (2013)

Hugo_InfernoRap_coverIn July 2013, Melbourne-based hip hop artist Hugo released a rap translation of the first six cantos of Inferno.  Here is Hugo’s description of the project:

“Immortal innovators of the artform such as Rakim, Talib Kweli, Eminem, KRS One, Mos Def, Nas, Notorious BIG, Tupac Shakur and Pharoahe Monch, took this rap rhyming to incredible depths, exploring all angles of their own vernacular, spitting intricate multi-syllable rhymed verses over irresistible hip hop beats and delivering their version of the Dolce Stil Novo to an insatiable world, and in the process proving, like Dante, that their Vulgar vernacular could have global relevance in its eloquence.

“So, to this project. The basic agenda being simply to retranslate the Inferno using some of the forms of Rap – Multi-syllabic rhyme patterns, driving beats – to reengage with this epic medieval poem, and maybe contribute to garnering it a new audience. [ . . . ]” — YouTube

See the videos with lyrics here.

To listen to the full album, click here.

Contributed by Janet Gomez (PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 2015)

Kevin Molin, “Inferno Infernale” (2013)


A reading of Canto I of Dante’s Inferno after several translatory metamorphoses via Google Translate: from Italian to Albanian, to Bengali, to Filipino, to Urdu, to Arabic, to Romanian, to Swahili – and the whole way back.


Beginning of transcript:

La nascita del nostro viaggio vita
Ho nero
Vi è una perdita diretta.
Ah, come va intesa
Foreste, terra prima, è difficile
Ho paura che qualcuno potrebbe pensare che!
Questo è un po ‘più dolorosa a causa della morte;
Ma meglio di “Ho visto
Tra le altre cose, ho visto.
“Com’i reddito che non si può ri-
Non mi
Modo corretto.
Ma mentre camminavo la montagna,
Valle Annulla
Ho rotto il mio cuore a temere,
No spalla
“National Self-raggi
Tutto il percorso.
Paura Alituliza
Lake City Center

See Soundcloud for the complete sound file and transcript.

“What the Hell: Dante in Translation and in Dan Brown’s New Novel”

what-the-hell-dante-in-translation-and-in-dan-browns-new-novel“People can’t seem to let go of the Divine Comedy. You’d think that a fourteenth-century allegorical poem on sin and redemption, written in a medieval Italian vernacular and in accord with the Scholastic theology of that period, would have been turned over, long ago, to the scholars in the back carrels. 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. S. Merwin. 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. It’s one of the reasons there are professors and students.” [. . .]    –Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, May 27, 2013

Mary Jo Bang’s New Translation of Dante’s Inferno

mary-jo-bangs-new-translation-of-dantes-inferno     mary-jo-bangs-new-translation-of-dantes-inferno

“. . .Bang worked on the project for six years after being inspired by Caroline Bergvall’s poem, Via (48 Dante Variations), which is composed entirely of those first three lines from 47 different translations.
‘How might the lines sound if I were to put them into colloquial English? What if I were to go further and add elements of my own poetic style?’ Bang writes in her note on the translation. ‘Would it sound like a cover song, the words of the original unmistakably there, but made unfamiliar by the fact that someone else’s voice has its own characteristics? Could it be, like covers sometimes are, a tribute that pays homage to the original, while at the same time radically departing from it?'” [. . .]    –Mike Melia, PBS Newshour, November 2, 2012

Contributed by Julie Heyman