Last year I challenged myself to read the Iliad, which proved a surprisingly compelling and heart-wrenching read. This year, I thought I could try another challenge, to pick from those famous classics that I’ve never tried before. I chose Dante’s Divine Comedy. As for the Illiad last year, and because of its massive size, I will read it in electronic version, a few pages at a time.
Gutenberg offers a boon for Dante lovers: numerous versions in several languages (including original Italian, as well as Finnish and Friulano) and no less than 3 different English translations. I gather that they are all classics, because of copyright issues: Henry Francis Cary (1772-1844), Henry Longfellow (1807-1882) and Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908).
I also found a website of Columbia University called Digital Dante (it’s kind of surrealist, don’t you think?), that offers the Longfellow translation compared to a (more modern?) Allen Mandelbaum translation. But having to read it online is not so comfortable for me.
I am a complete beginner in Dante-land and would like to ask my enlightened fellow lit-bloggers: did anyone of you read the Comedy? Do you have a clue which translation is (considered) best? Of course, my objective is purely literary and not academic in the least. As a non-native English speaker, I am clumsy with olde English (ye and thee are not my cup of tea, although I can get some of it). I don’t want to be burdened with massive footnotes, but I don’t want to miss the action either…