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Thread: Best Edition of "Divine Comedy"?

  1. #1

    Best Edition of "Divine Comedy"?

    I have heard that Mandelbaum's prose translation of Divine Comedy is probably the most reliable and safe choice (outside of Pinsky's version of Inferno...but he never completed the rest of the trilogy, so I am not considering that). I have also heard that it's good to read this poem in a facing-page version, where you have the Italian on one side of the page and the English translation on the other. I don't speak any Italian, but I am willing to try this out. I haven't seen any Mandelbaum versions that have this feature, however. Do you guys know of any? If you had to narrow it down to one version of the Divine Comedy for a beginner, what would it be? Something else other than Mandelbaum? As I said, I'm a novice and I would like something with footnotes (since this makes the going a lot easier, correct?). I am assuming Mandelbaum's version has footnotes. I'm going to read the Odyssey and Aeneid before I try out the DC (I have the Lattimore and Mandelbaum translations of these works, respectively). Anyways, any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking to get a version for Christmas. I wonder what other book I should ask for? I'm trying to get through the most essential works of Western literature before I move onto more obscure stuff...I just got the complete Shakespeare. Perhaps the complete Milton or Chaucer? What else would you guys recommend for rookies to get them hooked on the classics tradition?

  2. #2
    Registered User Lykren's Avatar
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    I'm a rookie myself but here is a list of nationalist epics (and epics generally)

    Nibelunglied
    Chanson de Roland
    El Cid
    Ramayana
    Mahbharata
    One Thousand and One Nights
    Mabinogion
    Beowulf
    Njals Saga
    Epic of Gilgamesh

    Have you considered reading the Bible?
    if not, winter - Sappho

  3. #3
    When I was in college the choice were John Ciardi's verse translation, or for those willing to pay more, Charles Singleton's prose translation with Italian on one side. But that was 20 years ago ...

  4. #4
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Personally, I came to Dante through John Ciardi and he remains my favorite. However, among newer translations I would seriously reconsider Pinsky's Inferno and look also to Mark Musa and Jean and Robert Hollander. Pinsky captures the energy and the violence of the Inferno, Mandelbaum conveys the classicism, and Ciardi captures the lyrical poetry. The Hollanders translation may be the most accurate... a marvelous poetic prose with unmatched notes. This edition sits a mere few inches away from my hand right now... next to my computer.

    Other essential texts?

    Start with:

    The Bible
    Aeschylus- The Oresteia
    Sophocles- Oedipus Rex (the Oedipus trilogy)
    Euripides- Medea
    Plato- The Republic
    Ovid- The Metamorphoses
    Horace- Odes
    Firdowsi- The Shahnameh
    anon.- The Arabian Nights
    anon.- Beowulf
    Petrarch- Sonnets
    Machiavelli- The Prince
    Boccaccio- The Decameron
    Rabelais- Gargantua and Pantagruel
    Cervantes- Don Quixote
    Chaucer- [/I]Canterbury Tales[I]
    Spenser- The Faerie Queene, The Amoretti
    Donne- Poems
    Moliere- Tartuffe, The Misanthrope
    Racine- Phèdre, Athalie
    Michel de Montaigne- Essays
    Jonathan Swift- Gulliver's Travels
    Rousseau- Confessions
    Milton- Paradise Lost
    Gibbons- Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    Lawrence Sterne- Tristram Shandy
    Daniel Defoe- Robinson Caruso
    Goethe- Faust, poems
    Holderlin- poems
    William Blake- poems
    Lord Byron- Don Juan
    Coleridge- The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, Kublai Kahn, Cristobel
    Wordsworth- poems
    Keats- poems
    Shelley- poems
    Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice
    Victor Hugo- Les Miserables
    Leopardi- poems (canti)
    Flaubert- Madame Bovary
    Emile Zola- Nana
    Baudelaire- Les Fleurs du Mal
    Rimbaud- A Season in Hell and The Illuminations
    Verlaine- poems
    Mallarme- poems
    Poe- tales
    Hawthorne- short stories
    Ambrose Bierce- short stories
    Guy de Maupassant- short stories
    Tennyson- poetry
    E.T.A. Hoffmann- short stories
    Walt Whitman- Leaves of Grass
    Emily Dickinson- poetry
    Melville- Moby Dick
    Dickens- A Tale of Two Cities
    Tolstoy- War and Peace, short stories
    Dostoevsky- The Brothers Karamazov
    Checkov- short stories
    Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness
    Ibsen- Peer Gynt, A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People
    Oscar Wilde- The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest
    Gautier- poetry, short stories
    Proust- In Search of Lost Time
    Robert Louis Stevenson- short stories
    Hermann Hesse- Steppenwolf
    Kafka- short stories, The Trial
    Thomas Mann- Doctor Faustus
    James Joyce- Ulysses
    Faulkner- As I Lay Dying
    Hemingway- short stories
    Yeats- poetry
    T.S. Eliot- The Wasteland and Other Poems, The Four Quartets
    Wallace Stevens- poetry
    Federico Garcia-Lorca- poetry
    Fernando Pessoa- poetry, prose
    Pablo Neruda- Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, The Captain's Verses, Residence on Earth
    Camus- The Stranger
    Rilke- poetry
    Eugenio Montale- Cuttlefish Bones
    Boris Pasternak- My Sister-Life
    Paul Celan- poetry
    Samuel Beckett- Endgame, Waiting for Godot
    J.L. Borges- Labyrinths
    Flannery O'Conner- short stories
    Saul Bellow- Sieze the Day
    Italo Calvino- Invisible Cities
    Li Bo- poetry
    Tu Fu- poetry
    Wang Wei- poetry


    I'll leave off here... this should keep you occupied for a while.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 09-04-2012 at 01:14 AM.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Personally, I came to Dante through John Ciardi and he remains my favorite. However, among newer translations I would seriously reconsider Pinsky's Inferno and look also to Mark Musa and Jean and Robert Hollander. Pinsky captures the energy and the violence of the Inferno, Mandelbaum conveys the classicism, and Ciardi captures the lyrical poetry. The Hollanders translation may be the most accurate... a marvelous poetic prose with unmatched notes. This edition sits a mere few inches away from my hand right now... next to my computer.

    Other essential texts?

    Start with:

    The Bible
    Aeschylus- The Oresteia
    Sophocles- Oedipus Rex (the Oedipus trilogy)
    Euripides- Medea
    Plato- The Republic
    Ovid- The Metamorphoses
    Horace- Odes
    Firdowsi- The Shahnameh
    anon.- The Arabian Nights
    anon.- Beowulf
    Petrarch- Sonnets
    Machiavelli- The Prince
    Boccaccio- The Decameron
    Rabelais- Gargantua and Pantagruel
    Cervantes- Don Quixote
    Chaucer- [/I]Canterbury Tales[I]
    Spenser- The Faerie Queene, The Amoretti
    Donne- Poems
    Moliere- Tartuffe, The Misanthrope
    Racine- Phèdre, Athalie
    Michel de Montaigne- Essays
    Jonathan Swift- Gulliver's Travels
    Rousseau- Confessions
    Milton- Paradise Lost
    Gibbons- Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    Lawrence Sterne- Tristram Shandy
    Daniel Defoe- Robinson Caruso
    Goethe- Faust, poems
    Holderlin- poems
    William Blake- poems
    Lord Byron- Don Juan
    Coleridge- The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, Kublai Kahn, Cristobel
    Wordsworth- poems
    Keats- poems
    Shelley- poems
    Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice
    Victor Hugo- Les Miserables
    Leopardi- poems (canti)
    Flaubert- Madame Bovary
    Emile Zola- Nana
    Baudelaire- Les Fleurs du Mal
    Rimbaud- A Season in Hell and The Illuminations
    Verlaine- poems
    Mallarme- poems
    Poe- tales
    Hawthorne- short stories
    Ambrose Bierce- short stories
    Guy de Maupassant- short stories
    Tennyson- poetry
    E.T.A. Hoffmann- short stories
    Walt Whitman- Leaves of Grass
    Emily Dickinson- poetry
    Melville- Moby Dick
    Dickens- A Tale of Two Cities
    Tolstoy- War and Peace, short stories
    Dostoevsky- The Brothers Karamazov
    Checkov- short stories
    Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness
    Ibsen- Peer Gynt, A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People
    Oscar Wilde- The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest
    Gautier- poetry, short stories
    Proust- In Search of Lost Time
    Robert Louis Stevenson- short stories
    Hermann Hesse- Steppenwolf
    Kafka- short stories, The Trial
    Thomas Mann- Doctor Faustus
    James Joyce- Ulysses
    Faulkner- As I Lay Dying
    Hemingway- short stories
    Yeats- poetry
    T.S. Eliot- The Wasteland and Other Poems, The Four Quartets
    Wallace Stevens- poetry
    Federico Garcia-Lorca- poetry
    Fernando Pessoa- poetry, prose
    Pablo Neruda- Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, The Captain's Verses, Residence on Earth
    Camus- The Stranger
    Rilke- poetry
    Eugenio Montale- Cuttlefish Bones
    Boris Pasternak- My Sister-Life
    Paul Celan- poetry
    Samuel Beckett- Endgame, Waiting for Godot
    J.L. Borges- Labyrinths
    Flannery O'Conner- short stories
    Saul Bellow- Sieze the Day
    Italo Calvino- Invisible Cities
    Li Bo- poetry
    Tu Fu- poetry
    Wang Wei- poetry


    I'll leave off here... this should keep you occupied for a while.
    Stlukes, thanks for all of your recommendations! Just saw this now. I will definitely save this list as a good starting point. Thanks also for your recommendations about books to help with reading the Bible. I was able to finish the King James Old Testament and definitely used some of the resources that you had recommended to me in PMs.

    I'm studying for LSATs (law school entrance exams) at the moment, but when I'm done with that, I do hope to conquer the King James Apocrypha and New Testament soon after, and then maybe try Dante. I'm still somewhat torn between Mandelbaum (already own this), Ciardi, and Hollander.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Lykren View Post
    I'm a rookie myself but here is a list of nationalist epics (and epics generally)

    Nibelunglied
    Chanson de Roland
    El Cid
    Ramayana
    Mahbharata
    One Thousand and One Nights
    Mabinogion
    Beowulf
    Njals Saga
    Epic of Gilgamesh

    Have you considered reading the Bible?
    Thanks, Lykren! As I said in the post I just added on here, I actually read the King James Old Testament and look forward to completing the Bible some day. Thanks for your list of epics. I definitely want to read all of the works you posted (the only one I've read before is Beowulf, which I found to be so-so a long time ago as a student), especially Gilgamesh, One Thousand and One Nights, and the Indian epics, which I hear are quite amazing, albeit very, VERY long.

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