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Tiny_Montgomery
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The Divine Comedy
« : 25.03.13 at 20:53 »
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May 3 will see the US publication of Clive James's translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy (560pp from W.W. Norton & Company), with UK publication to follow from Picador later this year. Plus, a critical book, called Cultural Cohesion: The Essential Essays (640pp), apparently billed as "a prequel" to Cultural Amnesia, will appear from Norton next month.
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #1: 28.03.13 at 17:24 »
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Amazon lists the release date as April 15, and Norton's website also lists April as the release month. Time to start pre-ordering...
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #2: 28.03.13 at 18:49 »
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Just to clarify things, I should say the Liveright edition whch will be available from Amazon is the same as the edition available from W.W. Norton.
 
Here is why:
 
Quote:
Liveright Publishing Corporation grew out of the storied Boni & Liveright press, one of the most important publishers of the early twentieth century. Under the editorial guidance of Horace Liveright the firm captured the flowering literature of the 1920s and 1930s, publishing some of the most celebrated American writers of the period, including William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Anita Loos, and Theodore Dreiser. Alongside these great authors were poets of equal prominence, such as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, Hart Crane, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) and Robinson Jeffers, as well as founding members of the Harlem Renaissance and European intellectuals such as Sigmund Freud and Bertrand Russell. In choosing titles for publication, Horace Liveright sought out writers whose works, he hoped, would stand the test of time. As a result, a disproportionately high number of writers that the house signed up became foundational forces of modern literature and culture.  
 
Though no original titles had been published bearing the distinctive cowled monk colophon of Liveright for many years, W.W. Norton & Company, in 2012, re-launched the storied imprint, producing an inaugural catalog of publications sure to once again secure Liveright as a pre-eminent publisher of the finest literature. Maintaining its historical high standards and progressive literary sensibilities in both fiction and nonfiction, the revived Liveright imprint releases have included a trenchant political commentary by Gail Collins (As Texas Goes…), a magisterial and provocative new work by biologist Edward O. Wilson (The Social Conquest of Earth), the long-awaited George Orwell Diaries, and republications of out-of-print classics by J.G. Ballard, such as The Drowned World and Millennium People. In addition, Liveright Publishing of the twenty-first century will continue to print classics from the twentieth century catalog, including works by Faulkner, Stein, Cummings, Crane, Loos, Freud, Russell, and many more.  
 
Like W.W. Norton, in its modern incarnation Liveright will be a home for outstanding works that define and redefine our culture, just as do the works published by Horace Liveright so many years ago continue, works that continue to provoke interest and inspire readers around the world.
wwnorton.com
..

 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #3: 03.04.13 at 11:48 »
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You can read the intros plus a good chunk of the work via the Look Inside feature at -  
 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Divine-Comedy-Clive-James/dp/0871404486/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364985746&sr=1-5
 
Do!
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #4: 04.04.13 at 23:16 »
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on 03.04.13 at 11:48, Pete Atkin wrote:
You can read the intros plus a good chunk of the work via the Look Inside feature at -  
 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Divine-Comedy-Clive-James/dp/0871404486/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364985746&sr=1-5
 
Do!
 

 
If there is anybody out there who'd like to dig a little deeper, then a good place to start would be here.
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #5: 05.04.13 at 18:19 »
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Slate is also running excerpts from Clive's introduction, along with translations of several cantos:  
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/features/2013/clive_james_divine_comedy_translation/clive_james_divine_comedy_translation_an_excerpt_from_the_introduction_plus.html
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #6: 11.04.13 at 20:22 »
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My copy arrived in the mail yesterday. Put in your orders folks!
 
I read the Inferno back in college, but thanks to Clive I'll finally read Purgatorio and Paradiso.
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #7: 13.04.13 at 20:02 »
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NPR*INTERVIEW
 
Arts & Life >Books >Author Interviews
 
Dante's Beauty Rendered In English In A Divine 'Comedy'  
by NPR Staff
April 12, 2013 1:24 PM  April 13, 2013
 
Read an excerpt
 
The Divine Comedy is a 14th century poem that has never lost its edge. Dante Alighieri's great work tells the tale of the author's trail through hell — each and every circle of it — purgatory and heaven. It has become perhaps the world's most cited allegorical epic about life, death, goodness, evil, damnation and reward. It calls upon the reader to ask: What would be our personal hell? What, for us, would really be paradise?
 
The Divine Comedy is also a work of literary beauty that is beyond being antiquated by time or diminished by repeated translation. The latest has been undertaken by a writer who is perhaps best known for his pointed and funny criticisms of culture. But Clive James is also a novelist, humorist, essayist, memoirist, and radio and television host who has been called his own one-man renaissance.
 
"I think I always wanted to translate Dante, but I always knew there was a problem," James tells NPR's Scott Simon. "Which is that of the three books of the Comedy — that's 'Hell,' 'Purgatory' and 'Heaven, 'Hell' is the most fascinating, in the first instance, 'cause it's full of action, it's got a huge three-headed dog, it's got a flying dragon, it's got men turning into snakes and vice versa, it's got centaurs beside a river of blood; you name it, 'Hell' has got it. But 'Purgatory' and 'Heaven' have mainly just got theology. And the challenge for the translator is to reproduce Dante's fascination with theology, which for him was just as exciting as all that action that he left behind in 'Hell.' "
 
James' wife, Prudence Shaw, played a central role in the translation project. "Back in 1964, when we first knew each other in Florence, before we were married, there was a romantic scene by which she took me through the actual great love affair between Paolo and Francesca in Canto Five of 'Hell,' and showed me how the verse worked in Italian, because her Italian of course was perfect already and mine was rudimentary," he remembers. "So there we were, actually duplicating the situation in the canto, because the two lovers are reading a book — that's what brought them together. And lo and behold, that's what we were doing. And I was so fascinated with what she told me, about how Dante's verse worked, that the idea never left me, that I should try to make my own poetry as interesting as that."
 
And that kind of interest is what most translators lack, James adds. "They're faithful, they're accurate, they're scholarly, but the actual raw poetic thrill of the verse doesn't get through, and that's what I think the translator must try to do if he or she can."
   
 James says that in order to achieve that raw poetic thrill, he first had to abandon terza rima, Dante's preferred rhyme scheme, "which is almost impossible to do in English without strain." English, he says, is a "rhyme-poor" language compared with Dante's Italian. "If you're going to do it in English, you need, I think, another approach, and I used quatrains. When I reconciled myself to that, I was off and running."
 
He calls the quatrains a "nice, easily flowing rhythmic grid on which to mount the individual moments. If you can give your verse muscle, then you're doing one of the things Dante does, because Dante has a tremendous capacity, right in the middle of the Italian language, the musicality of the Italian language, to be strong, to be vivid, to be precise ... The Italian language the Italians speak today is largely Dante's invention. He combined a lot of dialects into the thing we now know as Italian."
 
James was diagnosed in 2010 with both leukemia and lung disease, and he jokes that both conditions are conspiring to kill him even as he speaks. "But I'm determined to get this message across, because I really had to face this for decade after decade as I thought about how to translate it." He did most of the translation work before becoming seriously ill, "but I could feel the end of my life coming. I could feel that there was a closure on its way, and I was examining my life, and I wasn't particularly satisfied with what I saw when I examined it. I felt the necessity for understanding, for redemption, if you will, and I think some of that went into my reading and my writing. Yes, it was the right time."
 
"I can say this much for sure, for certain, right here on the air," James continues. "There is no young man's version of this translation. I couldn't have done it when I was younger. I had the energy, but not the knowledge, and not the knowledge of myself, because Dante is worried about himself. Dante is in a spiritual crisis, and I think you have to have been in one of your own to understand what he's talking about. He's seeking absolution, redemption and certainty. He's seeking a knowledge that his life has been worthwhile. Which I still am."
 
Read An Excerpt: 'The Divine Comedy,' Translated By Clive James
 
Listen to the StoryWeekend Edition Saturday
8 min 11 sec Playlist

 
Listen or download
 
*NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States.
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #8: 14.04.13 at 07:19 »
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<<But Clive James is also a novelist, humorist, essayist, memoirist, and radio and television host who has been called his own one-man renaissance. >>
 
Oh, and lyricist.
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #9: 19.04.13 at 16:34 »
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A print version of this review appears in the Sunday Book Review section of The New York Times on April 21 2013.  
 
The reviewer, Joseph Luzzi, (PhD, Yale) is Associate Professor of Italian and Director of Italian Studies at Bard
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #10: 24.04.13 at 21:04 »
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The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a good review, found here:  
http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2013/04/clive_james_translation_of_the.html
 
I won't quite all of it, but here are some good bits:
 
Quote:
...his sometimes daring, often gorgeous interpretation of "The Divine Comedy." He is well armed for the struggle. One of the world's foremost literary critics, he has been pondering Dante for decades, thinking deeply about the perils and promises of a another possible English translation.  
 
...Presented more in quatrains, with James' delicate sensitivity about phrasings and meanings, the "Comedy" becomes a more Germanic than Italian work, imbued so much more with the sense of fate reflective of northern European verse. The effect, at times, is positively Beowulfian.
 
Is such a reading accurate? That's not relevant. The question is: does this translation bring to light fresh appreciations for Dante? And the answer is that it most certainly does, often exquisitely.
 
...James gives us something sublime: a new way of reading a classic work. James' version is not merely a mirrored word, but a transfigured word. As such, it will no doubt enter the essential Dante canon, and remain there for years to come.

 
Also, The New Criterion has an article on Clive by Robert Conquest. It begins with a reference to Clive's translation but seems to be is a review of Nefertiti in the Flak Tower. I say "seems" because the article is behind a pay-wall...
http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Singing-ceremonies-7600
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #11: 31.05.13 at 21:03 »
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It looks like Clive's translation is getting a swell reception in his homeland, with rave reviews in The Sydney Morning Herald--"a remarkable tour de force - brave, sparkling, encyclopaedic and with a tremendous forward momentum" (http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/master-craftsmans-crowning-glory-20130530-2nehs.html) and The Weekend Australian--"The poem flows magnificently...As for the later books [...] I know of no English versions that come near James's... His feeling for Dante is surely given extra force by his own present predicament: exiled by illness from his homeland"(www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/simply-divine/story-fn9n8gph-1226653679049).
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #12: 05.06.13 at 18:47 »
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That New Criterion article by Robert Conquest is still behind the paywall, but it's been reprinted in full by Quadrant and can be read here:
http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2013/6/the-extraordinary-verse-of-clive-james
 
I should note that though it opens with a mention of The Divine Comedy, the rest of the article is about Clive's original recent poems.
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #13: 06.06.13 at 08:59 »
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Excellent. For the interested, there's a chpater in KIngsley Amis's Memoirs devoted to Robert Conquest who has never had the credit he deserves. It contains at least one hilarious anecdote concerning KA's adulterous behaviour. A must-read.
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #14: 29.06.13 at 15:13 »
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The full text of Clive's introduction to his new translation of The Divine Comedy is published in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph. If you want to read it, and it alone, you may have to pop around to your nearest newsagent. It's unlikely, for copyright reasons,  to be reached by googling it.  
 
Slate publised an article adapted from Clive's introduction, plus three translated cantos in April this year. This was to coincide with the publication in America of Clive's translation, and was, one felt, very much aimed at readers who might be new to Dante or Clive or possibly both.  
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #15: 03.07.13 at 13:08 »
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on 29.06.13 at 15:13, Kevin Cryan wrote:
The full text of Clive's introduction to his new translation of The Divine Comedy is published in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph. If you want to read it, and it alone, you may have to pop around to your nearest newsagent. It's unlikely, for copyright reasons,  to be reached by googling it.  
......
Kevin Cryan.

 
Just how wrong can one be? I said it was the full text, and it's not.  I said that it's unlikely to be reached by googling it.  That's turns out be wrong. It's  right here.
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #16: 05.07.13 at 09:54 »
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The Guardian has just published a lengthy interview/profile of Clive:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/05/clive-james-dante-translation
 
It's too long to excerpt here, but the teaser is "As he awaits the British reviews of his translation of The Divine Comedy, Clive James talks to Robert McCrum about his illness, his marital split, TV criticism and his 'joking seriousness'"
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #17: 12.07.13 at 07:58 »
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The London Evening Standard’s Defence Correspondent Robert Fox  has this to say:
 
Quote:
........
 
By chance I was studying Dante, his world and language at the same time Mr and the future Mrs James were in Florence not quite 50 years ago. Dante and his Comedy have haunted me ever since, accompanied me to wars, earthquakes, assassinations and upheavals of my own times. Clive James has now given us a translation worthy of this and any other time; and a great piece of literature in its own right.
 

 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #18: 17.07.13 at 21:13 »
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Book of the week: The Divine Comedy, By Dante, translated by Clive James
A lifetime's practice of poetry equips James, as translator and interpreter, to scale this summit
 
Sean O'BrienFriday 12 July 2013
 
I suggest that those interested read the whole of O'Brien's article.  He gets a lot interesting things said in just over a thousand words.  
 
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Re: The Divine Comedy
« Reply #19: 17.07.13 at 21:21 »
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Clive was on Radio 4's Front Row this evening discussing his new work and his illness
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Though he had no great gifts of personality or mind, he was quite well respected.
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