Dante's Inferno: Translations by 20 Contemporary Poets

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9780880012911: Dante's Inferno: Translations by 20 Contemporary Poets

This exciting new translation of Dante's masterpiece, considered by many the greatest poem ever written, brings together twenty of our most distinguished contemporary poets. One of the most important works of our literary and social imagination, Dante's Inferno has been translated by poets and scholars throughout the ages, but never before have so many talented voices worked in concert with each other and with Dante to produce this most compelling book of the Commedia. Dante's unique combination of formal and imaginative genius demands that only those in complete command of their own language should undertake to translate his. As James Merrill reminds us in his introduction, "masterpieces are timeless, but their translations date, and need redoing." This remarkable collaboration puts one of our "sacred texts" back into the hands of the keepers of the language, the poets themselves. Readers new to Dante will find a convincing and exciting tale of inner and outer exploration, and for the initiated, a Dante who speaks, in English, with a new lyrical power.

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Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

From Publishers Weekly:

In this adventurous and stimulating experiment in translation, contemporary poets of quite varied persuasions--from Richard Howard to Deborah Digges--reconsider a looming ancestor, Dante. The 34 cantos of the Inferno are shared among 20 poets all known for their strong original work in English, and some, too, for their distinguished accomplishments as translators. The effect of the book is to summon a multiplicity of voices from the one, and to direct readers not only back to the source but to the varying tempos and temperaments of modern poetry in English. Some readers may, it's true, find the plurality of this Inferno engulfing, but it's difficult not to rejoice in such singular abundance. As a project in translation, this one is uncommonly educating, too, asking readers to make judgments on the various approaches and to decide for themselves what matters most about the poetry. In that sense, literary connoisseurship becomes a seemly match for the moral connoisseurship of Dante's work, where sins and sinners are mapped out with a horrifying vividness, harmoniously observed. All readers will have their own favorites, whether these are Cynthia Macdonald's sleekly vigorous Cantos VI and VII, the devastating elegance of Jorie Graham's XI and XII, or others. And yet, the point is finally the whole--the full company, and not the parts.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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