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  • Dante Alighieri

    May/June c.1265 - September 14, 1321
    Part 12 of 13: Translations, Other Aids & Bibliography

    Probably the first complete translation of Dante into a modern language was the Castilian version of Villena (1428). In the following year Andreu Febrer produced a rendering into Catalan verse. In 1515 Villegas published the Inferno in Spanish. The earliest French version is that of B. Grangier (1597). Chaucer has rendered several passages beautifully, and similar fragments are embedded in Milton and others. But the first attempt to reproduce any considerable portion of the poem was made by Rogers, who only completed the Inferno (1782). The entire poem appeared first in English in the version of Henry Boyd (1802) in six-line stanzas; but the first adequate rendering is the admirable blank verse of H. F. Cary (1814, 2nd ed. 1819), which has remained the standard translation, though others of merit, notably those of Pollock (1854) and Longfellow (1867) in blank verse, Plumptre (1887) and Haselfoot (1887) in terza rima; J. A. Carlyle (Inferno only, 1847). C. E. Norton (1891), and H. F. Tozer (1904), in prose, have since appeared. The best in German are those of "Philalethes" (the late King John of Saxony) and Witte, both in blank verse.

    Modern Editions and Commentaries
    The first serious attempt to establish an accurate text in recent times was made by Carl Witte, whose edition (1862) has been subsequently used as the basis for the text of the Commedia in the Oxford edition of Dante's complete works (1896 and later issues). Dr Toynbee's text (1900) follows the Oxford, with some modifications. The notes of Cary, Longfellow, Witte and "Philalethes," appended to their several translations, and Tozer's, in an independent volume, are valuable. Scartazzini's commentary is the most voluminous that has appeared since the 15th century. With a good deal of superfluous, and some superficial, erudition, it cannot be neglected by any one who wishes to study the poem thoroughly. An edition by A.J. Butler contains a prose version and notes. Of modern Italian editions, Bianchi's and Fraticelli's are still as good as any.

    Other Aids
    For beginners no introduction is equal to the essay on Dante by the late Dean Church. Maria Rossetti's Shadow of Dante is also useful. A Study of Dante, by J. A. Symonds, is interesting. More advanced students will find Dr Toynbee's Dante Dictionary indispensable, and Dr E. Moore's Studies in Dante of great service in its discussion of difficult places. Two concordances, to the Commedia by Dr Fay (Cambridge, Mass., 1888), and to the minor works by Messrs Sheldon and White (Oxford, 1905), are due to American scholars. Mr W. W. Vernon's Readings in Dante have profited many students. Dante's minor works still lack thorough editing and scholarly elucidation, with the exception of the De vulgari eloquentia, which has been well handled by Professor Pio Raina (1896), and the Vita Nuova by F. Beck (1896) and Barbi (1907). Good translations of the latter by D. G. Rossetti and C. E. Norton, and of the De monarchia by F. C. Church and P. H. Wicksteed are in existence. The best text is that of the Oxford Dante, though much confessedly remains to be done. The dates of their original publication have already been given.

    The first attempt at a bibliography of editions of Dante was made in Pasquali's edition of his collected works (Venice, 1739); but the first really adequate work on the subject is that of the viscount Colomb de Batines (1846-1848). A supplement by Dr Guido Biagi appeared in 1888. Julius Petzholdt had already covered some of the same ground in Bibliographia Dantea, extending from 1865 to 1880. The period from 1891 to 1900 has been dealt with by SS. Passerini and Mazzi in Un Decennio di bibliografia Dantesca (1905). The catalogues of the two libraries already named, and that of Harvard University, are worth consulting. For the MSS. Dr E. Moore's Textual Criticism (1889) is the most complete guide. (A. J. B.*)

    Part 13: Related Articles, Sites, etc.

    In this biography:
    Part 1: Introduction
    Part 2: Political Life, Part 1
    Part 3: Political Life, Part 2
    Part 4: Dante's Ghibellinism
    Part 5: Wanderings
    Part 6: Old Age and Death
    Part 7: Divina Commedia
    Part 8: Convito, Vita Nuova & Canzoniere
    Part 9: De Monarchia & De Vulgari Eloquentia
    Part 10: Eclogues, De Aqua et Terra & Letters
    Part 11: Authorities, Editions & Commentaries
    Part 12: Translations, Other Aids & Bibliography
    Part 13: Related Articles, Sites, etc.

    This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.


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