Divine Comedy Essay | Student Essay

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Various Attempts to Translate Dante's Divine Comedy

Summary: Linguists over the past two centuries have successfully translated Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy such that they convey the general meaning of various passages. In these translations, however, diction and wordiness have varied wildly; no two translations are identical, due to normal translational variation and the intent of the linguist. Taking both of these into account, John Ciardi's 1954 translation is far superior to the others.
Throughout the past two hundred years, many linguists have attempted to translate Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy into English. While all have been successful in conveying the general meaning of various passages, diction and wordiness have varied wildly; no two translations are identical. This can be attributed to two factors: normal translational variation and the intent of the linguist. Taking both of these into account, John Ciardi's 1954 translation is far superior to the others.

Unlike previous literary works, The Comedy (divine was added to the title some two hundred years after Dante), written between 1307 and 1320, was originally published in vernacular Italian. This threatened Dante's legitimacy: all other `great' works of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and New Science were written in Latin. Even Isaac Newton published his scientific works in Latin: it was the international language of scholars and philosophers. Another linguistic aspect of Dante's...

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