The Divine Comedy
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The Divine Comedy

By (author) Dante Alighieri , Translated by Clive James

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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.

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  • Paperback | 560 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 27.94mm | 317.51g
  • 11 Mar 2014
  • WW Norton & Co
  • Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • English
  • 0871407418
  • 9780871407412
  • 19,565

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Author Information

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. Born in Australia, Clive James lives in Cambridge, England. He is the author of Unreliable Memoirs; a volume of selected poems, Opal Sunset; the best-selling Cultural Amnesia; and the translator of The Divine Comedy by Dante. He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

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Review quote

"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 "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 "Perfect for the Don Drapers in your life." -- Megan O'Grady "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

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