Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reading Group Reminder- Dante's Inferno

I have lined up in front of me on the computer desk three different versions of Dante's Inferno.  It's a drop in the ocean of Inferno translations.  There are many translations of Dante's Inferno.  The first of the three is the copy I own and read a couple of years ago.  It's the Allen Mandelbaum translation which was a thick slog of a read for me.  I understand that it's a fairly faithful translation, but it doesn't sing or jump or bounce.  I would hazard a guess that poetry is sacrificed for accuracy.  Especially after peeking into other versions, I doubt I could make my way through the Mandelbaum version again.

Next is the recent translation by Michael Palma.  It boasts a faithful translation with an ear inclined toward contemporary American English.  I think it largely succeeds and I am very close to going with this translation in my reading.  It is quite good and, I think, quite readable.  But I also picked up Ciaran Carson's recent translation and I find it very engaging.  Carson is a poet whereas the others are scholars.  As far as translations go, it's probably more akin to Seamus Heaney's Beowulf.  Snobby purists may whine, but it's a translation for the people (which am us.)  I may end up reading the Carson or I may change my mind and go with the Palma.

Either way, this isn't all that important to you except that I may quote passages that read differently in your version.  Choose whatever version you like.  I think the Penguin Classics version is a completely different translation.  It shouldn't effect our reading group that much if we all read different versions.  If you can or if you're feeling ambitious, go ahead and read it in the original Italian!

So, welcome, everyone!  This post is to announce the beginning of our reading group's reading of Dante's Inferno.  As usual, everyone is welcome to join.  All you have to do is read along with the group.  Next week I will have our first check-in post.  You can leave your comments there if you'd like, or you can just read along and enjoy. 

If we take it at 8 Cantos per week, we can finish in about a month.  So, we will read through Canto VIII this next week which... well, if I go with the Carson it takes me up to page 56.

Now here's a video to go with our reading.  This was the best quality of this video I could find online (you might even say I had a devil of a time finding it.  Oh, I should probably also mention that it is my intention to make every Inferno joke I can possibly imagine in the course of our reading.)  I apologize if the video is bursting with ads.  I think we'll find that Crass Capitalists are somewhere around the 7th Ring as we read.

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