Divine Comedy | literary influence in the english-speaking world and beyond

Literary influence in the English-speaking world and beyond

A detail from one of Sandro Botticelli's illustrations for Inferno, Canto XVIII, 1480s. Silverpoint on parchment, completed in pen and ink.

The Divine Comedy was not always as well-regarded as it is today. Although recognized as a masterpiece in the centuries immediately following its publication,[54] the work was largely ignored during the Enlightenment, with some notable exceptions such as Vittorio Alfieri; Antoine de Rivarol, who translated the Inferno into French; and Giambattista Vico, who in the Scienza nuova and in the Giudizio su Dante inaugurated what would later become the romantic reappraisal of Dante, juxtaposing him to Homer.[55] The Comedy was "rediscovered" in the English-speaking world by William Blake – who illustrated several passages of the epic – and the romantic writers of the 19th century. Later authors such as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, C. S. Lewis and James Joyce have drawn on it for inspiration. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was its first American translator,[56] and modern poets, including Seamus Heaney,[57] Robert Pinsky, John Ciardi, W. S. Merwin, and Stanley Lombardo, have also produced translations of all or parts of the book. In Russia, beyond Pushkin's translation of a few tercets,[58] Osip Mandelstam's late poetry has been said to bear the mark of a "tormented meditation" on the Comedy.[59] In 1934, Mandelstam gave a modern reading of the poem in his labyrinthine "Conversation on Dante".[60] In T. S. Eliot's estimation, "Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third."[61] For Jorge Luis Borges the Divine Comedy was "the best book literature has achieved".[62]

English translations

New English translations of the Divine Comedy continue to be published regularly. Notable English translations of the complete poem include the following.[63]

Year Translator Notes
1805–1814 Henry Francis Cary An older translation, widely available online.
1867 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The first U.S. translation, raising American interest in the poem. It is still widely available, including online.
1891–1892 Charles Eliot Norton Translation used by online at Project Gutenberg.
1933–1943 Laurence Binyon An English version rendered in terza rima, with some advisory assistance from Ezra Pound
1949–1962 Dorothy L. Sayers Translated for Penguin Classics, intended for a wider audience, and completed by Barbara Reynolds.
1969 Thomas G. Bergin Cast in blank verse with illustrations by Leonard Baskin.[64]
1954–1970 John Ciardi His Inferno was recorded and released by Folkways Records in 1954.
1970–1991 Charles S. Singleton Literal prose version with extensive commentary; 6 vols.
1981 C. H. Sisson Available in Oxford World's Classics.
1980–1984 Allen Mandelbaum Available online.
1967–2002 Mark Musa An alternative Penguin Classics version.
2000–2007 Robert and Jean Hollander Online as part of the Princeton Dante Project.
2002–2004 Anthony M. Esolen Modern Library Classics edition.
2006–2007 Robin Kirkpatrick A third Penguin Classics version, replacing Musa's.
2010 Burton Raffel A Northwestern World Classics version.
2013 Clive James A poetic version in quatrains.

A number of other translators, such as Robert Pinsky, have translated the Inferno only.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Göttliche Komödie
aragonés: A Divina Comedia
azərbaycanca: İlahi Komediya
Bân-lâm-gú: Sîn-khiok
беларуская: Боская камедыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Боская камэдыя
brezhoneg: Divina Commedia
čeština: Božská komedie
Ελληνικά: Θεία Κωμωδία
español: Divina comedia
فارسی: کمدی الهی
français: Divine Comédie
한국어: 신곡
Bahasa Indonesia: Divina Commedia
interlingua: Divin Comedia
italiano: Divina Commedia
Kiswahili: Divina Commedia
lumbaart: Divina Cumedia
日本語: 神曲
Piemontèis: Divin-a Comedia
Plattdüütsch: Göttliche Komödie
português: Divina Comédia
română: Divina Comedie
rumantsch: Divina Commedia
sicilianu: Divina Cummedia
Simple English: The Divine Comedy
slovenčina: Božská komédia
slovenščina: Božanska komedija
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Divina Commedia
Türkçe: İlahi Komedya
Türkmençe: Ylahy komediýa
Tiếng Việt: Thần khúc
吴语: 神曲
粵語: 神曲
中文: 神曲