“Dante’s Vita Nova

“Frisardi has chosen to present his Vita Nuova as Dante’s readers encountered it—as a single book in a single language. In 1861, Dante Gabriel Rossetti made the same monolingual choice, but subsequent translations have usually been bilingual ones (or ones that gave the prose in English but the poems in both Italian and English). Frisardi wishes to offer us the Vita Nuova (which he calls, borrowing Dante’s introductory Latin, Vita Nova) in “contemporary American English”: we sink or swim in an American text. (An appendix reproduces the poems in their original Italian, with literal prose translations.) The monolingual page is the outcome of an understandable decision: few American readers would be much helped by a facing page in thirteenth-century Italian. And, after all, most foreign authors are offered to us in “straight English”—Herodotus, Cervantes, Pascal.

[. . .]

Poems such as those in the Vita Nuova (whatever the continuing efforts to translate their sentiments) entirely lose their function as poems when their constituting sound-chains, their word-notes, are made to disappear. The Vita Nuova has left many rhetorical and thematic legacies to Western poetry—the disturbances and vacillations of possessive love, the eye as the erotic organ par excellence,the refinement of the mixed genre of prose and poetry, the symmetry of the arrangement of the poetic sequence, the drama of direct address to a beloved, the power of simplicity in language in poems of complex interiority—and for all these bequests the Vita Nuova will continue to be remembered and debated. In their original Italian, the poems will be memorized, pondered, and loved. Andrew Frisardi—through his translation, introduction, and generous annotation—enables us to revisit this decisive step in the invention of the Western psyche, and reminds us, by the very difficulties of his attempt at rendering Dante’s verse in English rhyme, of the existence of one peculiar but fundamental species of poetry—ear-fixated, insistent, repetitive, hypnotic—that is resistant even to paraphrase, and, in the end, fatally insusceptible to translation.”    –Helen Vendler, The New Republic, October 5, 2012

Check out Andrew Frisardi’s translation, Vita Nova, on Amazon.

“Dante Rides Again” at Potsdam Museum

An interactive reading of Walter Noble’s translation of the Divine Comedy in Potsdam, New York, taking place on November 10, 2019.

“Bang’s Purgatorio

“Heading over waters getting better all the time
My mind’s little skiff now lifts its sails,
Letting go the oh-so-bitter sea behind it.

The next realm, the second I’ll sing,
Is here where the human spirit get purified
And made fir for the stairway to heaven.

Here’s where the kiss of life restores the reign
Of poetry—O true-blue Muses, I’m yours—
And where Calliope jumps up just long enough

To sing backup with the same bold notes
That knocked the poor magpie girls into knowing
Their audacity would never be pardoned.”    –Excerpt from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio, The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

Illustration by Berke Yazicioglu.
See more about Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

“Mary Jo Bang Discusses Purgatorio

“Well. And I think that the other aspect of the note is my trying to rationalize my own translation decisions. So, for instance, in in one of the cantos, in one of the early cantos in Purgatorio, Dante and Virgil encounter Belacqua, who is lounging in a shadow and being very sarcastic about Dante’s hurry to get up to the top of Mount Purgatory. He says, Fine, Mr. Lightning Bolt, you go right on up to the top. And at that point, Dante realizes who he is. And commentators link this to a bookseller that Dante used to know who would sit around all day. And Dante was always teasing him about his laziness. And so he’s using him as an example. But this. You go right on up, Mr. Lightning Bolt.”    –Mary Jo Bang, in an interview with Kevin Young for The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

See excerpts from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

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

cerberus

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