Friday, 31 December 2010

The Divine Comedy on the web

Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510), Dante Alighieri
Private collection
"Italian literature begins and ends with Dante. But that is a great deal. In Dante the whole spirit of the Renaissance is to be found." - James Joyce.

In case anyone is grasping for a new year's resolution, there are surely not many better than this: to read Dante's Divine Comedy from beginning to end. Thanks to the web, this can be a much more rewarding experience than simply reading a translation.

There are of course many English translations out there, some good, some mediocre, but in our opinion any translation has to be read in conjunction with the Italian original, even if you don't speak any Italian. The best presented site I have been able to find is the University of Virginia's World of Dante. As well as presenting the English and Italian texts side by side, this site features notes on people and places mentioned and several sets of illustrations, including the most famous series by Sandro Botticelli, Alessandro Vellutello, and Gustave Doré.

We recommend studying Botticelli's underrated drawings while reading the text, so much richer and more accurate than Doré's sentimentalised 19th century vision.

More expansive notes and background to the text can be found at the University of Texas's Danteworlds site.

Finally, we recommend reading the text in conjunction with an audio recording, better to appreciate Dante's poetry. The best freely available complete recording we have been able to find is by Iacopo Vettori, licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. It can be downloaded and listened to canto by canto in MP3 format and is available here.

Domenico di Michelino (1417-1491), Dante and the Three Kingdoms
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
Luca Signorelli (ca.1450-1523), Dante Alighieri
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572), Allegorical portrait of Dante
National Gallery of Art, Washington

1 comment:

  1. hello carlo here! i knew he is the protomartyr right.. the portrait i mean.
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