SUBJECT AREA Arts entertainment
CREATED ON 25th April 2018

Various Attempts to Translate Dante's Divine Comedy Essay

Throughout the previous two hundred years, many linguists have attempted to interpret Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy to English. While all are effective in conveying the general meaning of different passages, diction and wordiness have varied tremendously; no two translations are indistinguishable. This can be attributed to two factors: normal translational variant and the intent of the linguist. Taking both of these into account, John Ciardi's 1954 translation is far superior to the others. Unlike previous literary works, The Comedy (heavenly was added to the name some two hundred years after Dante), written between 1307 and 1320, was initially printed in vernacular Italian. This endangered Dante's legitimacy: all other 'good' works of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and New Science were composed in Latin. Much Isaac Newton published his scientific works in Latin: it was the global language of scholars and philosophers. Another linguistic part of Dante's epic was its peculiar rhyme scheme. Dante wrote it that his very own terza rima (ABABCBCDC, etc.), a blueprint based, like a lot of other facets of The Comedy, on the number three. Relatively easy to accomplish in Italian - many words rhyme with each other, end in vowels |- and terza rima is hard to accomplish in English while maintaining the meaning of a passage. Ciardi's translation manages to do this, all the while using modern speech and apparent pronouns and verbs. The other translator to attempt that, Dorothy L. Sayers, writing in 1949, preserves terza rima but sinks to excessive clich Sayers is the onl...

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