“Gustave Doré’s Beatrice is disappointingly bland, a strapping damsel in a nightgown, not that fierce beauty whose name the poet can barely utter. His angels, however, are sublime. It was important to me that we have an uplifting image on the cover, Dante being so associated with the infernal regions and the austere features of his face (which the large B was originally to have overlaid). A comedy is, of course, a story that ends well, and what better end could there be than coming face to face with ‘eternal light’? Such is, moreover, the ‘joy that man is meant for.’
[. . .]
“B was supposed to have come out in 2020, seven hundred years after the original’s probable 1320 completion (this latter number inscribing itself, miraculously, into the actual structure of the poem). Yet, happily perhaps, and due only to a delay in the editing process, it is instead appearing on the 700th anniversary of not only Dante’s death but the last Cathar’s prophecy – spoken from the flames – that ‘in seven hundred years the laurel will grow green again.’ It is also May, month of the Virgin, with the sun having just entered Gemini (Dante’s natal star and mine).” —Ned Denny for Carcanet Press, describing B (After Dante), his 2021 translation/adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy
“Published to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, Ned Denny’s baroque, line-by-line reimagining – the follow-up to his Seamus Heaney Prize-winning collection Unearthly Toys – shapes the Divine Comedy into nine hundred 144-syllable stanzas. Audacious, provocative and eminently readable, tender and brutal by turns, rooted in sacred doctrine yet with one eye on the profane modern world, this poet’s version – in the interpretative tradition of Chapman, Dryden and Pope – is a living, breathing Dante for our times. Hell has never seemed so savage, nor heaven so sublime.” —Carcanet Press
Purchase B (After Dante) from Carcanet Press here.
Read Denny’s full blogpost here.