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Thread: Translations of Dante

  1. #1
    Fu Manchu Wannabe botkin's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Translations of Dante

    What translations of the Commedia would you reccomend? I just finished reading my second translation of the Commedia, by Robert Hollander on the Princeton Dante Project. My first was Dorothy L. Sayers' rhyming translation for Penguin (which I preferred, and occasionally revisit).

    And also, don't you hate it when the Commedia is translated into prose? I hate leafing through copies at bookstores and finding solid blocks of paragraphs, with no meter, no rhyme, and no rhythm staring up at me.
    "They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground, --
    They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound."

  2. #2
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    Jan 2007
    I read the Allen Mandelbaum's translation of the Inferno, i enjoyed it a lot, I've also heard by a few other people that its one of the better translation available. So it might be something to look into, I dont remember what translation of Purgatorio i read, i dont believe it was the same version tho, seemed to me to be a bit dry, even tho it was in verse.

  3. #3
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
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    We just discussed this a little while ago. Check here:

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog:

  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
    Dear botkin-
    I agree about the prose, but I can't see how English can accomodate the Italian. It''s not about richness of language either. It's about music. Cadence in the Italian gives the emotive power of the words a boost by devices in the terza rima not easily found in English. Some translators make tortuous choices to achieve Dante's famed brevity, but by doing this they lose meaning. It's not their fault, they are dealing with perhaps the greatest master in history. Try reading Shakespeare in the Italian!! I know this sounds trite, but get a dual language and plow through (as T.S, Eliot recommends). Even better get a reading of it and LISTEN - Vittorio Gassman for one, or the princeton DAnte Project. That will aid you enormously. And relax. Your reading will take a lifetime. Enjoy the pearls slowly. Dante never gets old.

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