The Divine Comedy (Paperback)
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“Under James’s uncanny touch, seven long centuries drop away, and the great poem is startlingly fresh and new.”—Stephen Greenblatt
The Divine Comedy is the precursor of modern literature, and Clive James’s translation—decades in the making—gives us the entire epic as a single, coherent, and compulsively readable lyric poem. For the first time ever in an English translation, James makes the bold choice of switching from the terza rima composition of the original Italian—a measure that strains in English—to the quatrain. The result is “rhymed English stanzas that convey the music of Dante’s triple rhymes” (Edward Mendelson). James’s translation reproduces the same wonderful momentum of the original Italian that propels the reader along the pilgrim’s path from Hell to Heaven, from despair to revelation.
About the Author
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence to a family of minor nobility. He entered into Florentine politics in 1295, but he and his party were forced into exile in a hostile political climate in 1301. Taking asylum in Ravenna late in life, Dante completed his Divine Commedia, considered one of the most important works of Western literature, before his death in 1321.
Clive James (1939—2019), author of the best-selling Cultural Amnesia and Poetry Notebook, was an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. His writing appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.
A translation for readers who are culturally engaged, willing to follow lengthy narratives, and curious about free will and the soul. A Dante for fans of Mad Men?
— Camila Domonoske - NPR.org
Hugely enjoyable… James allows us a valuable new glimpse into a supremely imaginative mind at work when thought and faith remained indivisible—before God, too, was forced from Paradise.
— Tom Bissell - Harper's
Perfect for the Don Drapers in your life.
— Megan O’Grady - Vogue.com
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.
— Earl Pike - Cleveland Plain Dealer