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Presentation of the Divine Comedy Web Edition

 

The first cantos of Dante’s Comedy circulated piecemeal among his readers; they were scattered leaves before they became a complete volume. His was a work in progress which readers followed in installments. His epic was like an Internet between poet and readers who watched the journey unfold.

In that spirit, this version of the Comedy is offered for perusal and study. The translator has tried to make the poem read like a novel, with its own rhythm and impulse. Dante wanted to catch your attention at the end of one canto to propel you into the next. His Comedy should carry you along with its own narrative power, language and imagery.

Rhyme has to be sacrificed: it’s a hindrance in English. But the poet’s original syntax and meaning, his quick verbal strokes, create their own poetry in motion, a speaking picture that involves the whole mind and heart. A translator is challenged to recapture that excitement.

This version was first published by Element Books; the author holds the copyright. Since the first edition has been exhausted, Charles Franco and I are giving browsers the chance to see the translation in this format. Professor Franco is responsible for the transfer of the printed page to the Web site, while I took the opportunity to make numerous revisions. We both hope that this endeavor of love will prove useful to those just discovering Dante and those who can never know enough of his genius.

We acknowledge with gratitude Senator Kenneth LaValle for his assistance and support with a state grant that provides the necessary funds to the Center for Italian Studies at Stony Brook University, host of this site.

A revised edition, based on this web edition, was published by Forum Italicum Books in 2000. The book has only a few copies left, and a third edition, redesigned and updated, is currently being printed, and will be available in September 2006.

Anyone who wish to purchase the book may e-mail Donna Severino, at Center for Italian Studies, or call (631) 632-7444. It is also available on line through Amazon.com

JFC / CF

February 2006