Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Divine Comedy and Conceptual Poetry

I'm a great fan of Dante's Divine Comedy - not just Inferno, you need to read Purgatorio and Paradiso as well. I also suspect every translation especially translations of poetry. how do you know to what extent the poet's ideas, tone, style, etc have been translated. And which, if any, of these is the most important to preserve or pass on anyway?

I was delighted when I came across this conceptual poetry project on the internet.

Caroline Bergvall, a French-Norwegian poet living in London, transcribed the opening three lines of each of the 48 translations of the Divine Comedy in the British Library in May 2000, 700 years after the date fixed by Dante for the start of the journey. She arranged them in alphabetical order of first line and added the translator and publication date.

She called the piece VIA (48 Dante Variations) and you can hear her read it by following the link on this page.

The poem opens:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

che la diritta via era smarrita

There is an article on Conceptual Poetry here which includes more on this project.
Picture above: A street in Florence.

No comments: