Monday, April 6, 2015

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated by Allen Mandelbaum

How does one review The Divine Comedy, which has been subject to consideration for centuries by some of the greatest minds of Western culture? I won't try. It's a brilliant and imaginative work of the first order, perhaps the greatest single work in the Western literary canon. If handled with care, one doesn't read it, one experiences it.

Mandelbaum's translation works very well, holding a poetic sensibility without attempting to replicate Dante's terza rima. The result reads (silently or aloud--this isn't modern prose, it's poetry) in a way that takes you into Dante's world. I'm not enough of an expert to compare translations authoritatively, but I don't know that other translations that I've read match this one. His notes are    a quite thorough and elucidating.