Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dante in Translation & Beowulf, too

Since we can't read Italian, next year we'll be reading Dante in English. Oh, which translator to choose... On my many travels looking for which to choose (I found last year that the translation make a world of difference)

I had to take into account how well the work "flows" in English
-compared with- it's literal meaning
- compared with- it's poetic form
-compared with- getting a "feel" for Dante
-compared with- enjoying the literature...(whew)
I'll choose Mandelbaum for myself. For a less poetic, more understandable version, I'd suggest Esolen or Musa.

I found this post on The Well-Trained Mind message boards very helpful if you want to do your own research.


For Beowulf there's no options : Seamus Heaney is easiest hands down. However, Kennedy doesn't (consciously or unconsciously) edit out the subtle Christian elements of Beowulf. Kennedy, too, has a poetic beauty to it -- it is not easier, though.

If you're looking for a younger age than high school there are lots of options. Ds#3 LOVES Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes by Raven -- the pictures are a little...graphic and scary to me, but he loooooves the book. It's not an excellent retelling, but fine for a first exposure to Beowulf.


  1. That's good to know! Thanks!

  2. I'd suggest a parallel version, with Italian one side and English the other. Also, check out A.N. Wilson's book here:

    Dante in Love

    ...it'll give you a perfect introduction and some "linguistic" ideas.



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