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(Message started by: Tiny_Montgomery on Today at 20:53)

Title: The Divine Comedy
Post by Tiny_Montgomery on Today at 20:53
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.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 28.03.13 at 17:24
Amazon lists the release date as April 15, and Norton's website also lists April as the release month. Time to start pre-ordering...

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 28.03.13 at 18:49
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 (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/affiliatecontent.aspx?id=24633)
..


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Pete Atkin on 03.04.13 at 11:48
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!


Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 04.04.13 at 23:16

on 04/03/13 at 11:48:46, 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 (http://kevincryan.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/clive-james-dantes-the-divine-comedy/).

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 05.04.13 at 18:19
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

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 11.04.13 at 20:22
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.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 13.04.13 at 20:02
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,' (http://www.npr.org/books/titles/177044282/the-divine-comedy?tab=excerpt#excerpt) Translated By Clive James

[bgcolor=Yellow]Listen to the StoryWeekend Edition Saturday
8 min 11 sec Playlist
[/bgcolor]

Listen or download (http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=2&islist=true&id=1032)

*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.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Ian Chippett on 14.04.13 at 07:19
<<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.

Ian C

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 19.04.13 at 16:34
A print version of this review (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/dantes-divine-comedy-translated-by-clive-james.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) appears in the Sunday Book Review section of The New York Times on April 21 2013.


The reviewer, Joseph Luzzi, (http://josephluzzi.wordpress.com/) (PhD, Yale) is Associate Professor of Italian and Director of Italian Studies at Bard (http://italian.bard.edu/)

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 24.04.13 at 21:04
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

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 31.05.13 at 21:03
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).

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 05.06.13 at 18:47
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.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Ian Chippett on 06.06.13 at 08:59
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.

IC

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 29.06.13 at 15:13
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 (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), 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.


Kevin Cryan.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 03.07.13 at 13:08

on 06/29/13 at 15:13:35, 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 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10148152/Clive-James-on-translating-Dante.html).


KC

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 05.07.13 at 09:54
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'"

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 12.07.13 at 07:58
The London Evening Standard’s Defence Correspondent Robert Fox  has this to say (http://www.standard.co.uk/arts/book/conveying-the-true-spirit-of-genius-clive-jamess-translation-of-the-divine-comedy-8702437.html):


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.


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 17.07.13 at 21:13
http://www.independent.co.uk/independent.co.uk/images/independent_masthead.png

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


http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8706138.ece/ALTERNATES/w460/4827910.jpg
Sean O'Brien (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_O'Brien_(writer))Friday 12 July 2013

I suggest that those interested read the whole of O'Brien's article (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/book-of-the-week-the-divine-comedy-by-dante-translated-by-clive-james-8706110.html).  He gets a lot interesting things said in just over a thousand words.  

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Ian Ashleigh on 17.07.13 at 21:21
Clive was on Radio 4's Front Row this evening discussing his new work and his illness

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 18.07.13 at 18:44
http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/corolla_logo.gif
NewStatesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/)


This week's magazine (http://www.newstatesman.com/contents) features Fiona Sampson (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/fiona-sampson) on Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 19.07.13 at 20:33
http://static.guim.co.uk/static/a314d63c616d4a06f5ec28ab4fa878a11a692a2a/common/images/logos/the-guardian/culture.gif
The Guardian, Friday 19 July 2013 19.00 BST

What the critics thought of Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/19/critical-eye-book-reviews-roundup)


Quote:
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/pictures/2013/7/18/1374167869664/Clive-James-010.jpg
'A propulsive, urgent energy' … Clive James. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris


For someone whose own translation of the Inferno is still widely available, Sean O'Brien proved a creditably enthusiastic reviewer of Clive James's version of Dante's The Divine Comedy (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/book-of-the-week-the-divine-comedy-by-dante-translated-by-clive-james-8706110.html). James, he wrote in the Independent, brings to the poetic trilogy "two important attributes: many years' study of the poem, and an impressively accomplished verse technique … Hearteningly, it is sound as much as sense that concerns him … The best of James's translation has a propulsive, urgent energy that finds a clear course through Dante's extended similes and his equally extended history lessons." The serial Forward prizewinner had reservations, though, about including phrases such as "heads up" and "cosy perks" and times when "from speakable English we move into the special purgatorial zone of translatorese". The London Evening Standard chose its veteran defence correspondent, Robert Fox (http://www.standard.co.uk/arts/book/conveying-the-true-spirit-of-genius-clive-jamess-translation-of-the-divine-comedy-8702437.html), to assess James's translation (he was studying Dante almost 50 years ago, he pointed out mid-review). He applauded the decision to use quatrains ("this frees him and allows him to reproduce the power and urgency of the original … he restores the sense of drama, the colours and music of Dante's vision"), and the book as "a translation worthy of this and any other time, and a great piece of literature in its own right". Only James's way of "smuggling explanatory details into the verse itself", rather than using footnotes, left Fox unconvinced – he even advised turning to Dorothy L Sayers's "somewhat pedestrian translation for Penguin, if only for the notes". In the Times, Josephine Balmer also praised the "often outstanding verse", but was more attuned than her male counterparts to the autobiographical subtext. "James's recent serious illness, alongside wel-publicised marital difficulties, lend an added poignancy … his gargantuan labour appears to offer a gift of love to his Dante scholar wife, an act of contrition".

.


......


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 20.07.13 at 16:07

on 07/18/13 at 18:44:33, Kevin Cryan wrote :
http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/corolla_logo.gif
NewStatesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/)


This week's magazine (http://www.newstatesman.com/contents) features Fiona Sampson (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/fiona-sampson) on Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy.



Quote:

......
Translations can show us what’s going on in an original. The tragedy is that they can never recreate it. Perhaps the only truly conscientious approach  to this extraordinary work is to have, alongside the Italian, a whole shelf-full of translations, each able to throw partial light on the text. A worthy member of any such library, James’s Comedy ha the peculiar steadiness that comes from the well-balanced quatrain and familiar pentameter line. ……………………….

…James is trustworthy poet-guide here as we explore once again the complexities of this multi-storied masterpiece.




Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 21.07.13 at 13:46
The Observer

The Observer: The New Review
Sunday 21 July 2013

Nicholas Lezard considers Clive James's translation of Dante's poem an impressive feat.


Quote:

.....
It's a mixed bag, but a huge one, and let no one impugn James's incredibly hard work -he's been working on this for decades - and seriousness of purpose and intent. Dante is full of conundrums for translators, and if anyone is going to bring him to a new audience, I'd far rather it was James than.... well, I'm not even going to mention his name here.


Kevin Cryan

P.S As of yet, there is no link to the full article.


P.P.S Just in case any reader has not guessed the identity of him whom Lezard chooses not to name, I suggest that it may be found here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/09/nicholas-lezard-dante-dan-brown)

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 21.07.13 at 16:56
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/img/Small_masthead_positive_A.gif
Non-fiction
Josephine Balmer (http://thepathsofsurvival.wordpress.com/josephine-balmer/)
Published at 12:01AM, July 13 2013


Quote:
......
James’s recent serious illness, alongside well-publicised marriage difficulties, lend an added poignancy. Like most successful translations, there is a sense of the personal throughout; his gargantuan labour appears to offer a gift of love to his scholar wife, an act of contrition leading to acceptance and resignation, the final “refuge in muteness” George Steiner found in Paradiso. As James translates from Canto 33, here are “my own desires in their last phase/Where steady craving finally abates”. And if the lack of scholarly apparatus can, on occasion, prove more face-furrowing than page-turning, the poetry is certainly here, spurring the reader to learn more.



For full review suscribe now (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/non-fiction/article3814130.ece)

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 22.07.13 at 18:43

on 07/21/13 at 13:46:45, Kevin Cryan wrote :
The Observer

The Observer: The New Review
Sunday 21 July 2013

Nicholas Lezard considers Clive James's translation of Dante's poem an impressive feat.


.....]


The full review is now online (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/22/divine-comedy-dante-clive-james-review).

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 25.07.13 at 13:28

on 07/18/13 at 18:44:33, Kevin Cryan wrote :
http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/corolla_logo.gif
NewStatesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/)


This week's magazine (http://www.newstatesman.com/contents) features Fiona Sampson (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/fiona-sampson) on Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy.

Kevin Cryan



Here is the full text (http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/07/divine-comedy-translated-clive-james-writing-reparation) of Sampson's essay.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 31.07.13 at 07:31
Clive's interview with Channel 4 News (first brought up in the Alerts section) is now online:
http://www.channel4.com/news/clive-james-jon-snow-television-dante-video

It clocks in at a good 14 minutes. Clive looks thin and slightly frail, but mentally he's sharp as ever.

EDIT: Whoops! The link was also posted under Alerts. Forgive the redundancy.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Rob Spence on 01.09.13 at 16:58
Very negative review (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ae291270-0679-11e3-9bd9-00144feab7de.html#axzz2dTbZHa00) in the FT by Ian Thomson. Monumentally dull  :-(

<<Typo fixed in url code -- SJB>>

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Keith Busby on 01.09.13 at 21:48
http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/profile.cfm?fellow=275&menu=2

Looks like a miserable sod, and is obviously not into returning compliments.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 03.09.13 at 19:15
To wash out the bad taste of that pedantic FT review, here's a piece from the Sydney Review of Books, by Jane Goodall (no, not that Jan Goodall):
http://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/the-onward-surge/

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 11.10.13 at 15:01
In the October 24th issue of the New York Review of Books Robert Pogue Harrison (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Pogue_Harrison) considers, in a single essay (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/oct/24/dante-most-vivid-version/), how Dante has been treated in three recent books, Inferno  by Dan Brown, Inferno translated by Mary Jo Bang and The Divine Comedy translated by Clive James.


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 14.10.13 at 17:56
The NYRB is mixed, in the sense that it mostly knocks James's translation while occasionally throwing in a backhanded compliment.
The Times Literary Supplement for Oct. 4 has also reviewed the translation, but the review isn't online and my local library still doesn't have the issue.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by S J Birkill on 14.10.13 at 18:07
More fool the TLS. Need a new paradigm for the digital age. What?

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 15.10.13 at 09:30
It does, and you can read what it is here. (http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article706967.ece)

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/images/logos/tls.gif


Quote:
We have launched a new website, which replaces the previous TLS website – some content is free to access, but full digital access to an archive going back to 1994, and updated every week, is available exclusively by subscription....


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 16.10.13 at 20:33
The London Review of Books published its review (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/colin-burrow/burning-love) this week. The full article is only available to subscribers. I have full online access and regret to inform everyone that, as the excerpts below demonstrate, the review is not a rave:


Quote:
There is certainly no complete English version that manages to do it all: to capture Dante’s delicacy, his violence, his irony, his ability to soar into the divine abstraction of desire, his combination of physical immediacy and metaphysical urgency, his material weight and his spiritual profundity.
So Clive James can’t be blamed for joining the ranks of the respectable failures. He has given us a Dante who is approachable and affable, and almost always readable, but who is unequivocally heavy rather than fluid or mellifluous. [...]
James’s penchant for monosyllables is not all bad. It enables him to capture Dante’s moments of colloquial toughness. It also allows the speaking voices in the poem to ring out clearly. [...]
James also turns out some ravishing lines. The talking flame which is Guido da Montefeltro in hell is described as ‘a blurred voice at the apex of the blaze’, and when James allows himself to combine monosyllables with liquid consonants, as he does in the amorous tale of Paolo and Francesca, the result can be a tangled beauty

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 28.11.13 at 13:04

Clive James’ translation of the The Divine Comedy has been shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Poetry Award.


2013 Costa Poetry Award shortlist


Clive James for Dante, The Divine Comedy (Picador)

Helen Mort for Division Street (Chatto & Windus)

Robin Robertson for Hill of Doors (Picador)

Michael Symmons Roberts for Drysalter (Jonathan Cape)


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Sylfest on 29.11.13 at 13:27

on 09/03/13 at 19:15:14, Revelator wrote :
To wash out the bad taste of that pedantic FT review, here's a piece from the Sydney Review of Books, by Jane Goodall (no, not that Jan Goodall):
http://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/the-onward-surge/


Near the end of her review:

"Surely somewhere in the outer circles of those regions there is a place for those who spend their lives poring over footnotes to literary classics. And somewhere, perhaps a little further in, a place for those who respond to a massive literary effort with an account of its shortcomings."

<Like>, as the folks of today say.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 05.12.13 at 03:26
The Financial Times "Books of the Year" Feature (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/f60b681e-529f-11e3-8586-00144feabdc0.html) includes Simon Schama's selection: "For those who have never quite managed the reverence for Dante required of the well-read, there is at last a translation that makes The Divine Comedy everything it’s billed: Clive James’s version in quatrain (Picador). Suddenly the voice – from teasingly conversational to clangorously epic to tenderly lyric – is right beside you even when it’s a talking beast."

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 20.12.13 at 21:03
The Times Literary Supplement review from Oct. 4 is now online,  thanks to a valuable fellow who likes uploading random articles:
http://heyvalera.com/blog/archives/19848

The review is quite positive. I won't reprint the entire piece here, since it's long, but here are some excerpts:


Quote:
The main difference from the original is that the interlocking triple rhymes of terza rima have gone, but, since James’s quatrains regularly run on over the four lines, the verse has a rolling feel that echoes Dante’s strong forward movement. James can also at times add in an extra pair of rhymes which brings him close to actual terza rima. The overall result is a dusted-down, up-front Dante we haven’t seen before, a Dante who by and large speaks in forceful, modern English, give or take the occasional poeticism imposed by rhyme, who says what he means and who implicitly proclaims his readability. With some Justification, James claims that he now sees his poetic career as having been a preparation for this Dante translation, ten years in the making.

[...] There is little sense, though, of Dante being dumbed down; particularly in doctrinal and polemical passages, there is a lot packed into long sentences that snake over strings of quatrains and acquire added syntactic complexity from the parenthetic glossing. At his best James balances complexity and forward impetus in a way no other contemporary version manages, probably achieving his best results with Purgatorio and Paradiso rather than Inferno. His versions of the life of St Dominic in Paradiso 12 and of Dante’s initiation into the wonders of the Empyrean in Paradiso 30 are in many ways tours de force.

[...] For all the points that could be picked on, Clive James’s idiosyncratic Comedy has a more Dantesque feel to it than most English versions. It is energetic, informative, alive, at times attention-seizing, and for the most part actually enjoyable. Its overall readability gives it a much better chance than most of launching newcomers into Dante’s difficult waters and of keeping their boats afloat for longer.

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 23.12.13 at 15:03
[bgcolor=Black]BBC Radio 4[/bgcolor]

Start the Week

Mon, 23 Dec 2013

Duration:
42 mins

Andrew Marr talks to the writer and former television presenter Clive James.

A podcast of the programme is available here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/stw).


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Kevin Cryan on 30.05.15 at 10:53
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/img/Small_masthead_positive_A.gif


750 years on, why take Dante off the shelf?

Clive James
Published at 12:01AM, May 30 2015


Because there are so many breath-taking moments, you practically need to be on oxygen to read it right through

It’s a big year for Dante, but then, it always is, even in countries that speak English. As an international Italian, Dante is up there with Michelangelo, Verdi, Sophia Loren and Silvio Berlusconi.

Most people in the English-speaking countries who have any concern with culture know Dante’s name, whereas they don’t know the name of, say, Guido Cavalcanti, who was his close friend and a fine poet but we don’t think we need him in our big picture of the literary past.

Dante we think we need, but we also need to be told why, because we can’t just pick.....

Subscribe now (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4455517.ece)


Kevin Cryan

Amazon

The Divine Comedy
by Clive James and Dante Alighieri
Paperback £13.99A
This item will be released on 4 June 2015.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kindle Edition £7.47Available for download now
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Amazon link (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=clive+james+dante&tag=googhydr-21&index=aps&hvadid=24572811294&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1529718018304756990&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_3mgefe06c6_b)


Title: Re: The Divine Comedy
Post by Revelator on 08.06.15 at 20:10
Here's the full text:


Quote:
750 years on, why take Dante off the shelf?: As well as his words packing an enchanting punch, many of the Italian poet's ideas still resonate strongly today

by Clive James (30 May 2015)

It's a big year for Dante, but then, it always is, even in countries that speak English. As an international Italian, Dante is up there with Michelangelo, Verdi, Sophia Loren and Silvio Berlusconi.

Most people in the English-speaking countries who have any concern with culture know Dante's name, whereas they don't know the name of, say, Guido Cavalcanti, who was his close friend and a fine poet but we don't think we need him in our big picture of the literary past.

Dante we think we need, but we also need to be told why, because we can't just pick him up off the railway station bookstall and read him in the original. He would have liked us to. His triple-decker magnum opus, The Divine Comedy, was aimed straight at the reader. Italian readers of Dante hear their own language at its intoxicating best, the way we hear ours when we read Shakespeare.

For the English-speaking translator of Dante, that's the first task. Important as it might be to make available a medieval verbal map of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, with all the corridors and elevators meticulously listed, what counts initially is to bring out the poetic quality in Dante that packs the same enchanting punch as Juliet telling Romeo to come back tomorrow.

The trouble is, the same ideas don't always sound as good in English as they do in Italian. We all know Longfellow's version of the killer line inscribed above the gate of Hell -- "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" -- because it's one of the few times in the poem when one of Dante's profundities matches up with one of our sonorities.

Fifty years ago, long before I myself contemplated chewing up a chunk of my life by translating the poem, my wife, already on her way to becoming a Dante scholar of high repute, took me through some of his most famously beautiful lines and showed me how they sounded. I noticed straightaway that very few of them could be given an English equivalent.

But there was at least one line that was too beautiful to leave alone. It was in the first canto of the middle section, Purgatory, and in the original it goes: Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro. For sheer music, it sounds as good as Juliet telling Romeo that it wasn't the lark he just heard, "It was the nightingale."

Transliterated into English, it means something like "Sweet colour of eastern sapphire". But 40 years had to go by before I felt capable of taking a crack at translating it as "The sweet clear tint of sapphire in the east". That, I hope, brings in some of the music with which he expresses the idea. But the job wouldn't be worth trying if some of his ideas were not permanently important.

It doesn't matter, now, that Dante thought the appropriate punishment for a bad pope should be to bury him upside down in a pit of fire. Nor does it matter, now, that when he contemplated the utter collapse of all his political hopes he felt almost as bad as Ed Miliband felt three weeks ago. But, beneath the rage, the hopes and the disappointments, there were the real ideas, and for some of those the word "idea" will scarcely do.

Dante, with his powers of observation joined to his powers of expression, could show you why art and science are essentially the same thing. There is a breathtaking moment when a piece of paper burns, and at the edge of the advancing flame the paper turns a colour less than black before it turns black.

And almost all the rest of the poem's moments of illustration are as breathtaking as that, so that you practically need to be on oxygen to read the thing right through.

Dante, still often thought of as an abstruse theology wonk full of long obsolete ideas, was in fact the great precursor of the modern scientific attitude. His concentrated gaze was everywhere, and a mile deep.

The whole known world was his laboratory. And of course it was also his paradise, though it never occurred to him that the only paradise, and the only hell, were here on earth. Not even he was ready to guess that.

Shakespeare guessed it, but that came later. Dante, for his time, was as comprehensive as a poet could be; and still, for all time, the quality of his poetry is as vividly beautiful as words can be made to sound. For that very reason, foreign translators will go on killing themselves as they attempt to tell the world what Italy already knows.

My own translation of The Divine Comedy has been out now for a couple of years and I can't complain about how it has been received in the scholarly and critical world. There were a couple of its learned reviewers that I would have liked to consign to one of the lower chambers of Dante's hell without benefit of room service, but they might have been right. Luckily, nobody else agreed with them. But in a few days the book will come out in paperback, and about that I'm genuinely nervous, because as any writer knows, when your book gets into paperback, that's the real publication.

You are trying to snare the attention of people who are not specialists, but general readers. If what you have written doesn't leap off the page, it will dive out of the window and never be heard of again.

But Dante himself faced the same prospect. Unless he had wanted to reach the public, he would have contented himself with writing a learned treatise, and today there would be PowerPoint lectures about it at the occasional academic conference, but not much more.

Instead, he went for the mass market. He was Silvio Berlusconi with a brain, and without the hair transplant. Nice set of laurels, though.

Clive James's translation of Dante: The Divine Comedy is published by Picador in paperback on June 4



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