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The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy [Kindle Edition]

Clive James
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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'Clive James's new translation is wonderfully unstuffy and infects fresh life back into the poem.' (Mary Beard, Best Holiday Reads 2013 Observer)

'An outstanding achievement . . . He restores the sense of drama, the colours and music of Dante's vision . . . Clive James has now given us a translation worthy of this and any other time; and a great piece of literature in its own right' - Robert Fox, Evening Standard

‘an extraordinary verse-rendering – the fruit of many years' work – of Dante's The Divine Comedy. According to TS Eliot, this is the only book in the western tradition that surpasses Shakespeare. It is typical of James's chutzpah that he has not only tackled this Everest of translation, but has scrambled to the summit in triumph . . . The result is a revelation. The reader is swept up in the drama of Inferno . . . The tempo and texture of the poem has an inevitable majesty, but there is also a dancing levity that is suited to James and his "joking seriousness"' Robert McCrum, Guardian

A triumph of great poetry and accessibility. Wonderful. (Melvyn Bragg, Books of the Year Observer)

'Clive James comes to the Comedy with two important attributes: many years study of the poem and an impressively accomplished verse technique' - Sean O'Brien, Independent Book of the Week

‘Like most successful translations, there is a sense of the personal throughout… the poetry is certainly here, spurring the reader to learn more.’ The Times Saturday Review

‘This is the translation that many of us had abandoned all hope of finding. Clive James’s version is the only one that conveys Dante’s variety, depth, subtlety, vigor, wit, clarity, mystery, and awe in rhymed English stanzas that convey the music of Dante’s triple rhymes. This book lets Dante’s genius shine through as it never did before in English verse, and is a reminder that James’ poetry has always been his finest work.’ Edward Mendelson, Columbia University

‘Clive James’ translation of The Divine Comedy is a remarkable achievement: not a scowling marble Dante of sublime set-pieces but a living, breathing poet shifting restlessly through a dizzying succession of moods, perceptions, and passions. Under James’ uncanny touch, seven long centuries drop away, and the great poem is startlingly fresh and new.’ Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University, author of The Swerve

Punchy, theologically serious and frequently funny verse. (Mark Lawson, Books of the Year Observer)

For those who have never quite managed the reverence for Dante required of the well-read, there is at last a translation that makes The Divine Comedy everything it's billed: Clive James's version in quatrain. Suddenly the voice - from teasingly conversational to clangorously epic to tenderly lyric - is right beside you even when it's a talking beast . . . Read it out loud in bed (softly). (Simon Schama, Book of the Year Financial Times)

Fresh, impressive new translation of The Divine Comedy that is both easy-going and lucid (Best Books of 2013 Sunday Times)

Product Description

Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2013

‘Finally I realised that I had been practising for this job every time I wrote a quatrain . . . I had spent all this time – the greater part of a lifetime – preparing my instruments’

The Divine Comedy is the precursor of modern literature, and Clive James’s new translation – his life’s work and decades in the making – presents Dante’s entire epic poem in a single song. While many poets and translators have attempted to capture the full glory of The Divine Comedy in English, many have fallen short. Victorian verse translations established an unfortunate tradition of reproducing the sprightly rhyming measures of Dante but at the same time betraying the strain on the translator’s powers of invention. For Dante, the dramatic human stories of Hell were exciting, but the spiritual studies of Purgatory and the sublime panoramas of Heaven were no less so. In this incantatory new translation, James – defying the convention by writing in quatrains – tackles these problems head-on and creates a striking and hugely accessible translation that gives us The Divine Comedy as a whole, unified, and dramatic work.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 674 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (18 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CP4I4HA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing translation 28 Oct 2013
Having read many translations of this masterpiece I have often tried to compare them with each other for both beauty and clarity. Often this is not always the case as the 'Victorian' English mindset and language are at variance with the Italian spirit.
Mr James has however done a exquisite rendering of such a task.
If you ever read only one English translation then this is a good place to start
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
It's a most readable translation and it's great to see an edition with no notes. Most reading of Dante requires one page of text to a frightening ten of notes, but Clive James's translation manages to be quite readable without them.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation 3 Oct 2013
Brilliant job of verse-translation - fluent, technically adroit, rhythmically varied, linguistically inventive, scholarly, witty, altogether hugely impressive. A really terrified of work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired translation. 28 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Conveying poetry in translation is notoriously difficult but Clive James brings his strengths and experience as a poet to convey the original in a way that feels like poetry. I don't know Italian, but James' version gives me confidence that it is as authentic as can be expected.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good find 13 Jan 2014
By yelsel
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really pleased with this one. Well written and explained. Not the sort of book you'd read in one session but worth having
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 5 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have loved the poem for a long time and I am always impressed by Clive James' use of language, so this was a 'no brainer' for me and it has lived up to my expectations. It is epic in all senses so I dip into sections rather than read extensively and the translation is always fascinating and, often, has the 'wow' factor too. Highly recommended for the 'serious' reader of poetry.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable 11 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an assessable translation and it you takes on a journey from Hell to Heaven with first class travelling narrators thank you Clive James for making this possible as Victorian translations are beyond me !
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loving the challenge of reading this. ..slowed me down a bit after game of thrones though.
Published 1 month ago by Julie Slater
5.0 out of 5 stars The most powerful translation of Paradise Lost I have ever read
‘Paradise Lost’ has influenced many artists, poets and writers, but the previous English translations of this last great flowering of complex medieval Christian philosophy written... Read more
Published 3 months ago by M:-)
4.0 out of 5 stars Often Right, Often Concise
Clive James is right about the disparity between the English and Italian languages - the equivalent word, calzolaio, in English, cobblers, is about five vowels short. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dan Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Clive James after Dante
James translation flows well as one would expect from a poet and word smith of his standing. However, I found that he easily loses focus and can drift so far from the original... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dr. Richard France
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work
The translation of The Divine Comedy completed by Clive James is outstanding. I am no classical scholar but I have enjoyed reading it from cover to cover and I shall continue to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs M.Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Another version.
I have a variety of translations and was v interested to see Clive James treatment of such a classic. Recommended to others and subsequently bought copies for them too.
Published 11 months ago by Molly
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