miércoles, 12 de mayo de 2010

The Divine Comedy Readalong

"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
che la diritta via era smarrita."
(Dante, Canto I of Inferno)

One of my biggest regrets from my college days is never having signed up for one of those semester- or year-long surveys on Dante that would have taken me all the way through The Divine Comedy with a Trecento specialist as my guide.  Another thing I could look back and complain about is not yet having pursued Italian beyond the one (marvelous) year I studied it in a night class not so very long ago.  To help make up for these two, how shall I say, distinctly nerdy tragedies, I've decided to host a Dante group read/readalong July through September this year.  If any of you are interested in joining me for any or all of the "program," please get in touch as it would be great to have a lot of minds/opinions weighing in on this medieval poetry classic.  The target dates for discussion posts of The Divine Comedy (all timed to coincide with the first weekend of each month) are as follows:

July 2-4: Inferno
August 6-8: Purgatorio
September 3-5: Paradiso

I'll leave a list of projected participants below, but please don't hesitate to forward me any questions if you have any.  Also,  any recommendations on a translation that you're particularly keen on would be very welcome (I'll prob. be using Pinsky's Inferno and W.S. Merwin's Purgatorio since I already have them at home, but I'm not sure what the consensus top translation choice is these days).  Finally, feel free to join in on any of the discussions whether you have time to read along with us or not...and post whenever it's convenient for you should you choose to read along with us.  Should be fun!

Other Readers

27 comentarios:

  1. I am interested in joining this read along-probably I will read what ever version of The Divine Comedy that is on line at Dailylit.com-I will look for a new translation (what ever translations they have are old as they have passed into the public domain) but I will for sure join in reading this work-thanks for hosting it

  2. I doubt it's in print, but Laurence Binyon's ca. 1943 terza rima version of Inferno is a marvel. I'd reread that one, myself.

    Charles Singleton's fairly literal prose translation of the entire Comedy is a worthwhile supplement just for the notes at the end of each canto. There's your Trecento specialist!

    I'm curious about Mark Musa, because his Petrarch is so good.

    For an oldie, try Longfellow. I've only read a few scraps of his Dante, but his Michelangelo translations are lovely.

  3. I thought about joining in, but decided that Dante and Beatrice remind me too much of Heathcliff and Cathy, or Abelard and Heloise, to name a few of the obnoxious pairs throughout history characterized by obsessiveness (of which I only approve when I do it, needless to add).

    I read that Dante met little Beatrice Portinari when he was 9 and she was 8. She kept blowing him off and even married a banker. (Dante showed up at the wedding, wept, fainted, and came home and wrote a poem about it.) Still, Beatrice couldn't get rid of Dante, except by dying, which she did before turning 25, probably from irritation. Dante decided from then on he would just meet up with her in his dreams and his poetry (rational choice, all things considered).

    One can access all his blathering about Beatrice in translation online at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Italian/TheNewLife.htm

    This doesn't mean, however, that I won't love to follow along as a readalong reader! I'm very glad you are doing this. When I was younger I had a book of the Blake illustrations, and used to pour over it for hours and hours. I wish the library in Tucson had a copy, but as you may know, here in Arizona we must devote all available public resources to suppressing Mexican immigration, quashing Mexican "ethnic awareness" classes, banning speaking and/or singing in Spanish (even if it's "The Star Spangled Banner") and other important issues that keep this red state white. No money left for great books!

  4. I'd like to participate, Richard. I, too, would need some direction on a translation, but I'd love to read-along.

  5. Nerdy tragedy. Giggle. And funny about the Italian too as my two great remaining geeky paths involve learning Italian and learning to play the cello. As for this, I said no, now I think maybe. I might just show up at your door unannounced.

    As for that in depth look at a work in college, I did it with Milton and it was, uh, somewhat less than I had hoped for but a very valuable experience nonetheless.

  6. John Sinclair's "prose + notes" is excellent, too - just remembered that one.

    Both Sinclair and Singleton include the Italian text.

  7. *Mel U: Awesome--glad to have you reading along with us!

    *Amateur Reader: Thanks so much for the in-depth tips! Interested in checking out the various suggestions (I, too, have heard good things about Musa's translations).

    *Jill: I can't believe you're going to turn down an opportunity to read what you yourself have pointed out is one of the seminal "paranormal romances" of all time! As for the racial profiling movement in Arizona, please don't get me started on that or I may have to boycott your blog or something!

    *Bellezza: Great to have you with us again! I think I saw that you've already made an Amateur Reader-informed translation decision, but I believe Claire is going to check out the translation by the Hollanders. We should have lots of variety translation-wise!

    *Frances: I'll keep a candle going in the window should you choose to wander over here unannounced after all. It will be fun, I promise! Cello and Italian? Not a bad geeky path as far as those things go--very artistic, in fact!

  8. Oh yes, do sign me up. I still have all my notes from the semester-long course I took my senior year of college on Inferno and half of Purgatorio. Unfortunately, I couldn't fit part 2 in my schedule the following semester. That's my Big Fat Geek Tragedy.

  9. Richard,
    You don't have to boycott my blog as I do not write it in Arizona. Rather, I write it in Cyberspace...

    But who knows? I might take a stroll with Frances, as long as you're going to have a candle in the window...

  10. I found you through Dolce Bellezza and I would definitely love to join in!

  11. *E.L. Fay: Cool! "My Big Fat Geek Tragedy" is a nice pun to boot. :D

    *Jill: Cyberspace, touché! And I'll leave two candles in the window then just in case.

    *Allie: Awesome--nice to have you join us!

  12. I'm in! Quite a while back I got up to page 79 of the Inferno and for some reason stopped. I have been wondering how and when I would ever get back to it. Although I tend to do horribly with challenges, I think this one will be great. After all, this is the kind of book that really benefits from extended discussion. Plus, if I don't join in I am going to feel really left out when you all are posting about it. I have a Penguin edition translated by Mark Musa.

  13. *Thomas: So glad to have you join us! I read Inferno before, dug it, but never made it far into Purgatorio for some reason. I agree that the discussions should make getting the rest of the trilogy read so much richer an experience, though!

  14. Oh I would so love to join in on this! I'll have to see what I can find in terms of the translations. I've heard Pinsky is great for Inferno.

  15. Reading the intro last night to my copy I noticed that Dante died on the 13th or 14th of September. Since the timing of the final posting period is so close it might be a fitting way to mark the 689th anniversary of his death. (I wonder who will be reading my blog in 689 years?)

  16. *Rebecca: Glad to have you reading with us! I liked the Pinsky translation the first time around, but I may do some comparison shopping with Inferno this time out.

    *Thomas: Interesting. Not sure that I want to change the three dates now that they've been posted, but maybe an optional wrap-up post on The Divine Comedy on the date(s) you mention wouldn't be a bad idea. Will mull it over--but feel free to post at your convenience in any of the three months regardless.

  17. I'd love to join you! I'm still looking for a good translation as well.

  18. *Iris: Wonderful, welcome to the readalong! It seems like there are a lot of great translation choices out there, so good luck finding the one that's right for you.

  19. If it's not too late, I'd love to join in. I don't know if I'll actually have time to read all three, but I think a readalong is about the only way I'll get myself motivated enough to get started.

    As far as edition, I have the Bantum Classics edition (Allen Mandelbaum, translator), which not only had the advantage of price, but have the original Italian opposite the English translation.

  20. *Amanda: Sign-ups are ongoing, so feel free to drop in and drop out as you please. Welcome!

  21. I'm in for reading The Inferno, but I don't think I'll get to all three. Can't wait to discuss it in July!

  22. *Avid Reader: Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but so glad you can join us for the Inferno read/discussion next month! Nice looking blog you got there, too--I'll have to come back and explore a little. Cheers!

  23. I am interested in a readalong of The Divine Comedy. I could never read this book by myself. I need support. I have a small intelligence level. Thanks for having me.

    Is there a recommended translation?


  24. All these foreign words are a little bit frightening especially since they aren't French.:)

  25. Ah, gee, dare I do it? Since I'd hate to let my brand new copy of Pinsky's translation of Inferno go to waste, I think I shall. Glutton for punishment, I think.:)

  26. I'm in

  27. *Tea: Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but welcome to the Dante party! I'm not sure there's one preferred translation out of so many out there, but I've been rereading the Robert Pinsky free verse translation of The Inferno and enjoying it immensely. P.S. You did fine with all the "frightening" non-French foreign words!

    *Michele: Sorry for the delay getting back to you as well, but I'm glad you've decided to become a "glutton for punishment"! Look forward to hearing what you think about the Pinksy translation, too. Cheers!

    *Lynda: Apologies for the delay, but welcome to the readalong--hope it'll be fun for you!