Dante

Quokka

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Sorry if this is in the wrong section but a little while back I read a fictional story that was based around the real life english/american translation of Dante's Divine Comedy by, amongst others, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Dante's work has been on my to read list for awhile now and was just wondering what the opinions of the people who have read this are? How interesting a read is it outside of the historical context and how hard is it to read?
 

littlemissattitude

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I've only ever read The Inferno, for a lit class years ago. I recommend it highly. It might be a bit tough going, if only for the fact that it was written so long ago, and I'd recommend a glossed edition that will explain some of the more obscure references and people who appear in it.

Dante wrote in "smell-o-vision", by the way. You'll understand what I mean by that when you read it.:D

Oh, and then after you've read Dante's, I'd also recommend that you read Inferno, by Niven and Pournelle, in which the person touring hell is a science fiction writer. I recall it as being a nifty little book.
 

Denie Alconn

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Have to admit, it`s been ages since we did something related to Dante at school, was it called "Dantes Inferno" or "the 13 cicles of hell".... anyhow, the picture I got from that, concerning hell was pure horror... maybe I should get baptised after all?
 

Amber

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I've read Dante's Inferno many times, and it is a terrific book, though you need a decent translation
 

GOLLUM

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I've read Inferno and looked at the other 2 parts Paradise and Purgatory. I enjoyed Inferno but found the other 2 works a bit heavy going and requiring a certain level of theological scholarship in order to gain a full appreciation of its art.

Below is a link to Project Guttenberg with a free text version of several translations including Longfellow's complete translation of the work.

http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/d#a507
 

creslin_black

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I wish I had read Dante, but unfortunately I've only been able to read a synopsis of the three parts. I hope to at some point though. I can't be certain, but I think that I read a while back that, even though it was epic poetry, the Roman Catholic Church interpreted Dante's descriptions of the underworld and the heavenly hierarchy literally, assuming that he had been 'divinely inspired' or something to that effect.
 

Extollager

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Do you have a Divine Comedy translation you favor?

The translation of the complete Comedy that I have read is Mandelbaum's, and I have no complaints about it, far from it, but I wondered if anyone wanted to speak up for a different version.

I've read the Inferno and Purgatorio in the Sayers-Reynolds version (old Penguin Classics) too -- superb notes.
 

fabrice4

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l'Amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle

It is always a huge problem translating anything that is not a technical notice, imagine such a work

Like translating Colleridge in other language

Part of the value lies in references to the culture, history, sound ...

"that was not a flight for my wings".[51] In a flash of understanding, which he cannot express,
 

Extollager

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Fabrice, I agree.

My view is that, when once a work has been translated, that work exists, and it may, on its own merits, by worth reading, particularly if it is commended by readers who are really fluent in both languages involved. But it's a good and humble thing for us to remember that, if we have read Dante in translation, we haven't read Dante. It's also a good idea for us, when there is some work in our language (you cite Coleridge), to consider how something there that we love must be lost or compromised in any other language. Still, I would hope someone who doesn't read English would be able to read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in a good translation in his or her own tongue.
 

Extollager

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I think that I read a while back that, even though it was epic poetry, the Roman Catholic Church interpreted Dante's descriptions of the underworld and the heavenly hierarchy literally, assuming that he had been 'divinely inspired' or something to that effect.

I don't think so -- I think I would have run across that claim somewhere in my Dante or medieval reading. I'm not a Roman Catholic, though.

Jeffrey Burton Russell's History of Heaven might be a good source to check on this. I have a copy and maybe I'll take a look later today.
 

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