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Dante's Inferno, a New Translation in Terza Rima

Dante's Inferno, a New Translation in Terza Rima

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Dante's Inferno, a New Translation in Terza Rima

Lunghezza:
883 pagine
6 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 27, 2011
ISBN:
9781462845194
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

His new translation of Dantes INFERNO with a Foreword on The Poet and the Poem; an individual note briefly recapitulating each of the 34 Cantos and explaining names and terms important for the readers understanding; and an Epilogue on the ascent to the Terrestrial Paradise reflects long familiarity with this medieval classic and assumes, as the Preface emphasizes, that far from being an inaccessibly distant monument, it speaks compellingly to contemporary readers both through graphic portrayal of horrors all too familiar to our own age, and by vividly presenting its central character (who is at once the 14th-century Florentine Dante Alighieri and each one of us traveling the journey of our lifes way) as a wandering exile, and the one living person, subject to feelings ranging from tearful pity to outraged horror, in the dead world of the eternally damned. To this extent, it is in part a Human as well as of a Divine Comedy. And although it is only the first of the three major segments of that comedy of movement from the sorrows and sufferings of Hell up the steep slopes of Purgatory to the eternal bliss of the Celestial Paradise, INFERNO can be read, as it has often been read from its own time through many centuries since, as a whole in itself. Its travelers ultimately find that their long and terrifying descent to the lowest depths of the world turns suddenly into ascent up through the previously unknown opposite hemisphere to a new world where they once again see the stars.

The translation, as explained in the Foreword, is an English approximation of the terza rima of the Italian original, a difficult form invented by Dante and rarely used by later poets. This is no incidental aspect of the poem, for its interlinking of rhymes throughout each canto is fundamental to its movement. No translation can of course be perfect, especially in so difficult a meter from so different a language; and some previous English-language efforts have foundered on excessively many awkward archaisms, inversions, and forced rhymes. Yet the attempt to substitute an alliterative so-called terza rima more theoretical than audible (and only discernible, if at all, by close scrutiny of the page), has proved barely distinguishable, when read aloud (as all poetry should be read), from plain prose in which some very fine translations exist with no claim to being verse. In so far as the present translation dares hope to transmit, however incompletely, integration of the poems elevated style and subject matter with the grace of its subtly fluid verse form, it might boldly hazard a claim to be the best translation of Dantes great poem yet made in English.

At the very least, anyone who knowingly undertakes so forbidding, if not indeed so impossible, an endeavor must never lasciare ogni speranza (abandon all hope), as those do who enter the gates of Hell! For to convey even a little of Dantes poetic power and beauty is already much.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 27, 2011
ISBN:
9781462845194
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Robert M. Torrance is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis. He received his B. A. summa cum laude in Greek and English from Harvard in 1961, followed by a year in Europe on a Frederick Sheldon traveling fellowship. He took his M. A. at UC Berkeley in Comparative Literature in 1963, and his Ph. D. at Harvard in 1970. After further teaching at Harvard and at Brooklyn College of CUNY, he came to UC Davis in 1976. During 25 years at Davis as associate and full professor, he served several terms as director of the Comparative Literature Program, and played a key role in designing the undergraduate curriculum and instituting the Ph. D. program. His book-length publications are (1) verse translations of two plays of Sophocles, Philoctetes and The Women of Trachis (Houghton Mifflin, 1966); (2)The Comic Hero (Harvard University Press, 1978), examining embodiments of this variable character in different ages from Homer to Joyce and Mann; (3) Ideal and Spleen: The Crisis of Transcendent Vision in Romantic, Symbolist, and Modern Poetry (Garland, 1984); (4) The Spiritual Quest: Transcendence in Myth, Religion, and Science (University of California Press,1994; translated into Modern Greek in 2005 and Spanish in 2006); and (5) Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook (Counterpoint, 2008), a vast collection of literary, religious, philosophical and scientific primary sources demonstrating widely diverse experiences and developing concepts of nature in both Western and non-Western cultures throughout the centuries, with extensive original introductions and commentaries as well as poetic translations from Greek, Latin, Italian (including a canto from Dante’s PURGATORIO), Spanish, and French. This 1200-page “sourcebook” has been called the finest anthology of nature writing to have appeared, containing texts hard to find elsewhere from earliest times through harbingers of Romanticism in the late eighteenth century. The original introductions and summaries alone constitute a balanced and incisive 500-page history of complexly changing relations between the worlds of humans and of nature — a term of multiple and shifting meanings in different times and places. A former Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and a Woodrow Wilson scholarship winner, he is a member of the Modern Language Association. His widespread achievements have been recognized by inclusion in the Marquis Who’s Who in America 2011, as well as in Wikipedia. His new translation of Dante’s INFERNO — with a Foreword on “The Poet and the Poem”; an individual note briefly recapitulating each of the 34 Cantos and explaining names and terms important for the reader’s understanding; and an Epilogue on the ascent to the Terrestrial Paradise — reflects long familiarity with this medieval classic and assumes, as the Preface emphasizes, that far from being an inaccessibly distant monument, it speaks compellingly to contemporary readers both through graphic portrayal of horrors all too familiar to our own age, and by vividly presenting its central character (who is at once the 14th-century Florentine Dante Alighieri and each one of us traveling the journey of “our life’s way”) as a wandering exile, and the one living person, subject to feelings ranging from tearful pity to outraged horror, in the dead world of the eternally damned. To this extent, it is in part a “Human” as well as of a “Divine Comedy”. And although it is only the first of the three major segments of that “comedy” of movement from the sorrows and sufferings of Hell up the steep slopes of Purgatory to the eternal bliss of the Celestial Paradise, INFERNO can be read, as it has often been read from its own time through many centuries since, as a whole in itself. Its travelers ultimately find that their long and terrifying descent to the lowest depths of the world turns suddenly into ascent up through the previously unknown opposite hemisphere to a new world where they once again see the stars. The translation, as explained in the Foreword, is an English approximation of the terza rima of the Italian original, a difficult form invented by Dante and rarely used by later poets. This is no incidental aspect of the poem, for its interlinking of rhymes throughout each canto is fundamental to its movement. No translation can of course be perfect, especially in so difficult a meter from so different a language; and some previous English-language efforts have foundered on excessively many awkward archaisms, inversions, and forced rhymes. Yet the attempt to substitute an alliterative so-called “terza rima” more theoretical than audible (and only discernible, if at all, by close scrutiny of the page), has proved barely distinguishable, when read aloud (as all poetry should be read), from plain prose — in which some very fine translations exist with no claim to being verse. In so far as the present translation dares hope to transmit, however incompletely, integration of the poem’s elevated style and subject matter with the grace of its subtly fluid verse form, it might boldly hazard a claim to be the best translation of Dante’s great poem yet made in English. At the very least, anyone who knowingly undertakes so forbidding, if not indeed so impossible, an endeavor must never lasciare ogni speranza (“abandon all hope”), as those do who enter the gates of Hell! For to convey even a little of Dante’s poetic power and beauty is already much.


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