Friday, April 1, 2011

Dante Times Three

Having finished reading, finally, The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, I think it’s time for a change of pace. The Divine Comedy should do it. But in which translation? I have three on hand. First, there is the beautiful Heritage Press edition published in 1944 with illustrations by William Blake and translated by Melville Best Anderson. Second, from my partial collection of Harvard Classics, the rugged 1909 printing of a limited edition, five volumes of which you see here. Translator: Henry F. Cary. Third, a Modern Library edition I brought home many years ago, also from 1944, rendered into English by three translators: John Aitken Carlyle (Inferno); Thomas Okey (Purgatorio); and P.H. Wicksteed (Paradiso).

My son and I were looking at these last night. He has the book in yet another edition, which he said he would bring by soon. But while we were passing them back and forth between us, it came to me that the only logical* thing to do is to read all three translations. And so that’s what I plan to do. I know, too, that there are other translations, each with something to recommend it. But I have these, and so for now these will have to do.

* My use of the word logical is my nod to April Fool’s Day.


Erin O'Riordan said...

I also recommend 'The Gargoyle' by Canada's Andrew Davidson, a brilliant modern take on Dante's Inferno.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Erin.

~im just only me~ said...

Yes, of course there is always Sayers BRILLIANT translation. What a woman.

William Michaelian said...

Penguin Books. Thanks — now I have to find that one as well. I just finished the Anderson translation of Inferno, and am about to move on to Cary’s version.