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Divine Comedies for the New Millennium

Divine Comedies for the New Millennium: Recent Dante Translations in America and the Netherlands

Edited by Ronald de Rooy
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Divine Comedies for the New Millennium
    Book Description:

    Dante's intranslatability paradoxically causes a steady flux of translations, overwhelming in America, much more modest in the Netherlands. However, the tiny Netherlands witnessed a remarkable boom of Dante translations around the year 2000: within a short period seven cantiche were translated by Dutchmen and seven by Americans. This historic moment gave rise to a seminar about these recent translations, and about the traditions of translating Dante in both nations. The American and Dutch Divine Comedies discussed in this volume are important landmarks in a long tradition of making Dante's work accessible to non-Italian readers in both countries. On this already crowded stage, however, every newcomer inevitably makes statements about how Dante's masterpiece should be read: as a poem, as a scholarly text or as a scholarly poem? The old polarization between the fearless (at times reckless) 'poetical' translators and the more cautious 'academic' translators is very much alive, and the choice seems one between compromise and confrontation, between caution and courage. This volume contains articles by Paolo Cherchi (University of Chicago, Università di Ferrara), Robert Hollander (Princeton University), Jean Hollander, Pieter de Meijer (University of Amsterdam), Paul van Heck (University of Leiden), and Ronald de Rooy (University of Amsterdam). This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0524-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. INTRODUCTION Divine Comedies for the New Millennium. Humbleness and Hubris
    (pp. 7-22)

    It was not that surprising that in the United States of America Dante’sDivine Comedyreceived a lot of extra attention from translators in the years before the jubilee 2000, a ‘magic’ year because of the 700thanniversary of Dante’s voyage through the otherworld. America, of course, could already boast a strong tradition of Dante translations. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the popular English Dante translation by Henry Francis Cary was an important instrument for introducing Dante in America.¹ The American tradition really began with Thomas William Parsons² and continued with the first American ‘dantisti’ in Boston at...

  4. The Translations of Dante’s Comedy in America
    (pp. 23-42)

    Dante’s popularity in the Anglo-American world is so wide-reaching that it has become a topic of research in itself. Perhaps anyone who has just touched upon this topic is familiar with the work of Angelina La Piana,¹ William De Sua,² and Gilbert F. Cunningham,³ the most extensive and exhaustive of them all. These works are indispensable and yet somewhat outdated since the most recent of them is now almost forty years old, and in these last four decades there has been a remarkable number of new translations and new experiments, and a great deal of theoretical work on translating has...

  5. Translating Dante into English Again and Again
    (pp. 43-48)

    The title of this paper reflects not only my wife’s and my practice as we work through theComedy,² draft after draft, but that of British and American translators since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is worth taking a moment to remind ourselves how much Dante in English has been and still remains available. John Ahern, in a useful survey ofTranslations in EnglishinThe Dante Encyclopedia,³ calculates a total of nearly 100 English translations, in a total of some 200 volumes, since many have translated only a singlecantica.

    One should begin by mentioning the partial...

  6. ‘Getting Just a Small Part of It Right’
    (pp. 49-54)

    As a poet, I found translating Dante’sCommediaboth easier and much harder than working on my own poems. How comforting not to have to wait for the Muses to strike with an idea, an image, or a phrase, but to have the subject matter with all its complexity of thought set in an orderly arrangement before my eyes, ready to be converted. How pleasing not to have to labor over metaphors, similes, or symbols, but to have the very words set before me in all their glory, waiting to be translated. But there’s the rub. Ignoring the difficulty of...

  7. The Poet Translated by American Poets. In Search of the Perfect ‘Trasmutazione Musaica’
    (pp. 55-74)

    In the most recent flux of English and American translations of Dante’sComedy, there is a clear tendency towards translations made by poets. This trend coincides with a renewed, strong interest in translations interza rima. Within the period 1994-2002 twelve English and American canticles were published, ten of which were translated – partially or totally – by poets. What’s more, seven of these canticles adopt a certain type of terza rima as their metrical solution.²

    These close ties between Dante and twentieth-century poets are by no means a new or unknown phenomenon. During the entire twentieth century, in fact,...

  8. Ciò che potea la lingua nostra. One Hundred and More Years of Dante Translations into Dutch
    (pp. 75-100)

    At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Dante’s fortune in the Netherlands is enjoying a very prosperous moment. Within a span of only three years, a remarkably substantial number of Dante versions have seen the light. First and foremost, two new translations of the entireCommedia, published shortly after a new translation of theInferno,¹ integral translations of theConvivioand theDe vulgari eloquentia(neither of which was ever before rendered into Dutch),² an anthology of Dante’s love poetry,³ and reprints of earlier translations of theVita nuovaand theMonarchia.⁴ In addition, a new translation was published of...

  9. Translating Dante’s Translations
    (pp. 101-114)

    Up to the last years of the twentieth century, a fairly large number of Dutch translations of theDivina Commediahad already been published. However, the years of transition towards the twenty-first century have seen an astonishing number of new translations of (parts of) Dante’s magnum opus. In some cases the translation is accompanied by a remarkable apparatus of notes, comments, and illustrations. In 1999 Jacques Janssen publishedMijn Komedie: Hel;¹ in 2000 Ike Cialona and Peter Verstegen published theirDe goddelijke komedie;² in 2000 Rob Brouwer published the first volume (Inferno) of his translationDe Goddelijke Komedie, to be...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 115-132)
  11. About the Contributors
    (pp. 133-134)
  12. Selected Bibliography of American and English Dante translations
    (pp. 135-140)
  13. Index of names
    (pp. 141-144)
  14. [Illustrations]
    (pp. I-VIII)