Paradiso: A Verse Translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander [NOOK Book]


With his journeys through Hell and Purgatory complete, Dante is at last led by his beloved Beatrice to Paradise. Where his experiences in the Inferno and Purgatorio were arduous and harrowing, this is a journey of comfort, revelation, and, above all, love-both romantic and divine. Robert Hollander is a Dante scholar of unmatched reputation and his wife, Jean, is an accomplished poet. Their verse translation with facing-page Italian combines maximum fidelity to Dante's text with the artistry necessary to reflect ...
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Paradiso: A Verse Translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander

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With his journeys through Hell and Purgatory complete, Dante is at last led by his beloved Beatrice to Paradise. Where his experiences in the Inferno and Purgatorio were arduous and harrowing, this is a journey of comfort, revelation, and, above all, love-both romantic and divine. Robert Hollander is a Dante scholar of unmatched reputation and his wife, Jean, is an accomplished poet. Their verse translation with facing-page Italian combines maximum fidelity to Dante's text with the artistry necessary to reflect the original's virtuosity. They have produced the clearest, most accurate, and most readable translation of the three books of The Divine Comedy, with unsurpassable footnotes and introductions, likely to be a touchstone for generations to come.

The finest of all Christian allegories, The Divine Comedy ranges over the whole culture —theological as well as literary— of the Middle Ages.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A beautiful translation of the astonishing fourteenth-century poem. . . . The best on the market. . . . If you haven't read the Divine Comedy now is the time.”
The New Yorker

Paradiso . . . contains some of the most exhilarating poetry ever written. . . . Robert Hollander is one of the pre-eminent Dante scholars of our time.”
The New York Times

“For our time and for an incalculable future the Hollander translation of The Divine Comedy will be the one used by serious readers. . . . Splendid as this new translation is, the endlessly valuable notes are what make this edition supplant all others.”
National Review

“The Hollanders' version is supple and clear, a triumph.”
The Los Angeles Times

“Very likely the most enduring, both as a literary achievement and for its commentaries.”
Atlantic Montly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307805959
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/18/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 1024
  • Sales rank: 735,599
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
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Read an Excerpt


ILa gloria di colui che tutto move per l'universo penetra, e risplende in una parte piu e meno altrove.
Nel ciel che piu de la sua luce prende4
fu' io, e vidi cose che ridire ne sa ne puo chi di la su discende;
perche appressando se al suo disire,7
nostro intelletto si profonda tanto,
che dietro la memoria non puo ire.
Veramente quant' io del regno santo10
ne la mia mente potei far tesoro,
sara ora materia del mio canto.
O buono Appollo, a l'ultimo lavoro13
fammi del tuo valor si fatto vaso,
come dimandi a dar l'amato alloro.
Infino a qui l'un giogo di Parnaso16
assai mi fu; ma or con amendue m'e uopo intrar ne l'aringo rimaso.
Entra nel petto mio, e spira tue19
si come quando Marsia traesti de la vagina de le membra sue.
O divina virtu, se mi ti presti22
tanto che l'ombra del beato regno segnata nel mio capo io manifesti,
vedra'mi al pie del tuo diletto legno25
venire, e coronarmi de le foglie che la materia e tu mi farai degno.
Si rade volte, padre, se ne coglie28
per triunfare o cesare o poeta,
colpa e vergogna de l'umane voglie,

Proem and Invocation to Apollo. Dante's passing beyond the human, beyond the earth, in heavenward ascent with Beatrice. His wonder. Beatrice on the Empyrean and the order of the universe.

The glory of the One who moves all things permeates the universe and glows in one part more and in another less.
I was within the heaven that receives4
more of His light; and I saw things that he who from that height descends, forgets or can not speak; for nearing its desired end,7
our intellect sinks into an abyss so deep that memory fails to follow it.
Nevertheless, as much as I, within10
my mind, could treasure of the holy kingdom shall now become the matter of my song.
O good Apollo, for this final task make me the vessel of your excellence,
what you, to merit your loved laurel, ask.
Until this point, one of Parnassus' peaks16
sufficed for me; but now I face the test,
the agon that is left; I need both crests.
Enter into my breast; within me breathe19
the very power you made manifest when you drew Marsyas out from his limbs' sheath.
O godly force, if you so lend yourself22
to me, that I might show the shadow of the blessed realm inscribed within my mind,
then you would see me underneath the tree25
you love; there I shall take as crown the leaves of which my theme and you shall make me worthy.
So seldom, father, are those garlands gathered28
for triumph of a ruler or a poet—
a sign of fault or shame in human wills—

che parturir letizia in su la lieta31
delfica deita dovria la fronda peneia, quando alcun di se asseta.
Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda:34
forse di retro a me con miglior voci si preghera perche Cirra risponda.
Surge ai mortali per diverse foci37
la lucerna del mondo; ma da quella che quattro cerchi giugne con tre croci,
con miglior corso e con migliore stella40
esce congiunta, e la mondana cera piu a suo modo tempera e suggella.
Fatto avea di la mane e di qua sera43
tal foce, e quasi tutto era la bianco quello emisperio, e l'altra parte nera,
quando Beatrice in sul sinistro fianco46
vidi rivolta e riguardar nel sole:
aguglia si non li s'affisse unquanco.
E si come secondo raggio suole49
uscir del primo e risalire in suso,
pur come pelegrin che tornar vuole,
cosi de l'atto suo, per li occhi infuso52
ne l'imagine mia, il mio si fece,
e fissi li occhi al sole oltre nostr' uso.
Molto e licito la, che qui non lece55
a le nostre virtu, merce del loco fatto per proprio de l'umana spece.
Io nol soffersi molto, ne si poco,58
ch'io nol vedessi sfavillar dintorno,
com' ferro che bogliente esce del foco;
e di subito parve giorno a giorno61
essere aggiunto, come quei che puote avesse il ciel d'un altro sole addorno.
Beatrice tutta ne l'etterne rote64
fissa con li occhi stava; e io in lei le luci fissi, di la su rimote.
Nel suo aspetto tal dentro mi fei,67
qual si fe Glauco nel gustar de l'erba che 'l fe consorto in mar de li altri dei.

that when Peneian branches can incite31
someone to long and thirst for them, delight must fill the happy Delphic deity.
Great fire can follow a small spark: there may34
be better voices after me to pray to Cyrrha's god for aid--that he may answer.
The lantern of the world approaches mortals37
by varied paths: but on that way which links four circles with three crosses, it emerges joined to a better constellation and40
along a better course, and it can temper and stamp the world's wax more in its own manner.
Its entry from that point of the horizon43
brought morning there and evening here;
almost all of that hemisphere was white--while ours was dark--when I saw Beatrice turn round46
and left, that she might see the sun: no eagle has ever stared so steadily at it.
And as a second ray will issue from49
the first and reascend, much like a pilgrim who seeks his home again, so on her action,
fed by my eyes to my imagination,52
my action drew, and on the sun I set my sight more than we usually do.
More is permitted to our powers there55
than is permitted here, by virtue of that place, made for mankind as its true home.
I did not bear it long, but not so briefly58
as not to see it sparkling round about,
like molten iron emerging from the fire;
and suddenly it seemed that day had been61
added to day, as if the One who can had graced the heavens with a second sun.
The eyes of Beatrice were all intent64
on the eternal circles; from the sun,
I turned aside: I set my eyes on her.
In watching her, within me I was changed67
as Glaucus changed, tasting the herb that made him a companion of the other sea gods.

Trasumanar significar per verba70
non si poria; pero l'essemplo basti a cui esperienza grazia serba.
S'i' era sol di me quel che creasti73
novellamente, amor che 'l ciel governi,
tu 'l sai, che col tuo lume mi levasti.
Quando la rota che tu sempiterni76
desiderato, a se mi fece atteso con l'armonia che temperi e discerni,
parvemi tanto allor del cielo acceso79
de la fiamma del sol, che pioggia o fiume lago non fece alcun tanto disteso.
La novita del suono e 'l grande lume82
di lor cagion m'accesero un disio mai non sentito di cotanto acume.
Ond' ella, che vedea me si com' io,85
a quietarmi l'animo commosso,
pria ch'io a dimandar, la bocca aprio e comincio: "Tu stesso ti fai grosso88
col falso imaginar, si che non vedi cio che vedresti se l'avessi scosso.
Tu non se' in terra, si come tu credi;91
ma folgore, fuggendo il proprio sito,
non corse come tu ch'ad esso riedi.
"S'io fui del primo dubbio disvestito94
per le sorrise parolette brevi,
dentro ad un nuovo piu fu' inretitoe dissi: "Gia contento requievi97
di grande ammirazion; ma ora ammiro com' io trascenda questi corpi levi.
"Ond' ella, appresso d'un pio sospiro,100
li occhi drizzo ver' me con quel sembiante che madre fa sovra figlio deliro,
e comincio: "Le cose tutte quante103
hanno ordine tra loro, e questo e forma che l'universo a Dio fa simigliante.
Qui veggion l'alte creature l'orma106
de l'etterno valore, il qual e fine al quale e fatta la toccata norma.

Passing beyond the human cannot be70
worded: let Glaucus serve as simile—
until grace grant you the experience.
Whether I only was the part of me73
that You created last, You—governing the heavens--know: it was Your light that raised me.
When that wheel which You make eternal through76
the heavens' longing for You drew me with the harmony You temper and distinguish,
the fire of the sun then seemed to me79
to kindle so much of the sky, that rain or river never formed so broad a lake.
The newness of the sound and the great light82
incited me to learn their cause--I was more keen than I had ever been before.
And she who read me as I read myself,85
to quiet the commotion in my mind,
opened her lips before I opened mine to ask, and she began: "You make yourself88
obtuse with false imagining; you can not see what you would see if you dispelled it.
You are not on the earth as you believe;91
but lightning, flying from its own abode,
is less swift than you are, returning home.
"While I was freed from my first doubt by these94
brief words she smiled to me, I was yet caught in new perplexity. I said: "I was content already; after such great wonder,97
I rested. But again I wonder how my body rises past these lighter bodies.
"At which, after a sigh of pity, she100
settled her eyes on me with the same look a mother casts upon a raving child,
and she began: "All things, among themselves,103
possess an order; and this order is the form that makes the universe like God.
Here do the higher beings see the imprint106
of the Eternal Worth, which is the end to which the pattern I have mentioned tends.

Ne l'ordine ch'io dico sono accline109
tutte nature, per diverse sorti,
piu al principio loro e men vicine;
onde si muovono a diversi porti112
per lo gran mar de l'essere, e ciascuna con istinto a lei dato che la porti.
Questi ne porta il foco inver' la luna;115
questi ne' cor mortali e permotore;
questi la terra in se stringe e aduna;
ne pur le creature che son fore118
d'intelligenza quest' arco saetta,
ma quelle c'hanno intelletto e amore.
La provedenza, che cotanto assetta,121
del suo lume fa 'l ciel sempre quieto nel qual si volge quel c'ha maggior fretta;
e ora li, come a sito decreto,124
cen porta la virtu di quella corda che cio che scocca drizza in segno lieto.
Vero e che, come forma non s'accorda127
molte fiate a l'intenzion de l'arte,
perch' a risponder la materia e sorda,
cosi da qesto corso si diparte130
talor la creatura, c'ha podere di piegar, cosi pinta, in altra parte;
e si come veder si puo cadere133
foco di nube, si l'impeto primo l'atterra torto da falso piacere.
Non dei piu ammirar, se bene stimo,136
lo tuo salir, se non come d'un rivo se d'alto monte scende giuso ad imo.
Maraviglia sarebbe in te se, privo139
d'impedimento, giu ti fossi assiso,
com' a terra quiete in foco vivo."
Quinci rivolse inver' lo cielo il viso.142

Within that order, every nature has109
its bent, according to a different station,
nearer or less near to its origin.
Therefore, these natures move to different ports112
across the mighty sea of being, each given the impulse that will bear it on.
This impulse carries fire to the moon:115
this is the motive force in mortal creatures:
this binds the earth together, makes it one.
Not only does the shaft shot from this bow118
strike creatures lacking intellect, but those who have intelligence, and who can love.
The Providence that has arrayed all this121
forever quiets--with Its light--that heaven in which the swiftest of the spheres revolves;
to there, as toward a destined place, we now124
are carried by the power of the bow that always aims its shaft at a glad mark.
Yet it is true that, even as a shape127
may, often, not accord with art's intent,
since matter may be unresponsive, deaf,
so, from this course, the creature strays at times130
because he has the power, once impelled,
to swerve elsewhere; as lightning from a cloud is seen to fall, so does the first impulse,133
when man has been diverted by false pleasure,
turn him toward earth. You should--if I am right—
not feel more marvel at your climbing than136
you would were you considering a stream that from a mountain's height falls to its base.
It would be cause for wonder in you if,139
no longer hindered, you remained below,
as if, on earth, a living flame stood still."
Then she again turned her gaze heavenward. 142

From the Paperback edition.

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