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Purgatorio Paperback – January 6, 2004
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”The Hollanders have rendered both the supple lyricism and the rich imagery of the Purgatorio with an admirably informed expertise. . . . A model for all translators.” The Literary Review
“The Hollanders’ translation . . . seems the most accessible and the closest to the Italian. . . . The provision of informative notes . . . is impeccable . . . with ample commentary easily and unobturisvely available at the end of each canto.” --Tim Parks, The New Yorker
“The Hollanders’ translation is probably the most finely accomplished and may well prove the most enduring.” --R.W. B. Lewis, Los Angeles Times
From the Inside Flap
Now I shall sing the second kingdom,
there where the soul of man is cleansed,
made worthy to ascend to heaven.
In the second book of Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante has left hell and begins the ascent of the mount of purgatory. Just as hell had its circles, purgatory, situated at the threshold of heaven, has its terraces, each representing one of the seven mortal sins. With Virgil again as his guide, Dante climbs the mountain; the poet shows us, on its slopes, those whose lives were variously governed by pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust. As he witnesses the penance required on each successive terrace, Dante often feels the smart of his own sins. His reward will be a walk through the garden of Eden, perhaps the most remarkable invention in the history of literature.
Now Jean Hollander, an accomplished poet, and Robert Hollander, a renowned scholar and master teacher, whose joint translation of the Inferno" was acclaimed as a new standard in English, bring their respective gifts to Purgatorio in an arresting and clear verse translation. Featuring the original Italian text opposite the translation, their edition offers an extensive and accessible introduction as well as generous historical and interpretive commentaries that draw on centuries of scholarship and Robert Hollander's own decades of teaching and reasearch.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was several cantos into the Hollander Inferno years ago, when I realized that I was going to spend the rest of my life reading this work, and so it is proving to be. The English translation is beautiful. The explanatory notes are illuminating, providing an immersion into the world of Dante and classical literature.
I've read that on Homecoming Weekend, Princeton alumni march in a parade, class by class, beginning with the oldest graduating class... except for Prof. Hollander's Dante students, who insist on marching as a group, so illuminating did they find the experience. One can see why. I'm on my third journey with Virgil and the Hollanders, and I am everlastingly grateful to them.
Unless you're enrolled in a university course—or are drinking buddies with a Dantean scholar—seek out an edition with plentiful notes (and read them) to get the most out of this one.
Note: Hollander translation with all the notes is super helpful if you're (like me) not terribly familiar with mythology, european/church history, or biblical references
I think that Hollander's translation captures the meaning very well.
My personal preference among available translations is, however, the translation made by Geoffrey Bickersteth. I believe he was a Cambridge University professor. Dr. Bickersteth has not only done a grand job of capturing in English the meaning of each part of the poem; he has performed the feat of putting his English wording into the form of terza rima, which is the same poetic form as Dante used for the Italian original. This is a great aid to the reader.
Bickersteth's notes are good, but Hollander's notes seem to be more thorough and more complete.
Bickersteth's translation was originally published some years ago in England. I am familiar with an edition of the Bickersteth translation published by Blackwell's, of Oxford. Later, in 1965, the Bickersteth translation of the entire Commedia was published in one very nice volume, on thin Bible paper with a hard binding, making it easily portable, again with the Italian text and the English text on facing pages, by Harvard University Press (as an imprint of its Belknap Press.)