Monday, May 23, 2016

The Inferno of Dante (Pinsky Verse Translation): Response I

The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky, Bilingual Edition, Illustrated by Michael Mazur with Notes by Nicole Pinsky and Foreword by John Freccero. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994, 1995 printing.

Dante's Inferno still packs heat 700 years into its publication. A salute to Dante Alighieri (circa 1265-1321) via this lively translation by Robert Pinsky (b. 1940).

A few snippets about Hell and Writing, beginning in Year 1300.

This is pertinent to many a tale, embracing nonfiction and fiction alike:

For my demanding theme so pulls my story,
To multiply the telling would be too little
For the multitude of fact that filled my journey.
(Canto IV, page 43).

Wow. So, Less must be More, More or Less, as so, too, would say the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). One can only provide so many telling details. James Joyce's Ulysses (1918-1922) takes readers on a crazy romp through a single day -- June 16, 1904 -- in a mere 700 pages of text. Even so, there are still gaps. Do these catch Dante's drift?

"Why do you squander?" and "Why do you hoard?" 
(Canto VII, page 67). 

Good question. We do people squander?  Why do people hoard? Human nature, very sinful. Simple as pie or a stye in the eye.

And he said more that I don't remember now --
(Canto IX, page 89).

This nifty statement covers a multitude of sins and omissions, no doubt. Handy at times in writing specifically and throughout life in general.

More to come, or in Dante's words as spoken by Virgil, refashioned by Pinsky,

". . . it pleases me
To go now; for above us in the skies
The Fish are quivering at the horizon's edge,
And the whole Wagon lies over Caurus -- and this,
Farther ahead, is where we descend the ridge." 
(Canto XI, page 115).

In the next post, we'll go deeper. 

Today's Rune: Defense. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I ended up reading this about ten years ago. I can certainly see why it's been so influential.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have always admired Mies van der Rohe for his minimalism, but did not realize I should embrace Dante for the same reason. Fascinating!