“Under James’s uncanny touch, seven long centuries drop away, and the great poem is startlingly fresh and new.”—Stephen Greenblatt
The Divine Comedy is the precursor of modern literature, and Clive James’s translation—decades in the making—gives us the entire epic as a single, coherent, and compulsively readable lyric poem. For the first time ever in an English translation, James makes the bold choice of switching from the terza rima composition of the original Italian—a measure that strains in English—to the quatrain. The result is “rhymed English stanzas that convey the music of Dante’s triple rhymes” (Edward Mendelson). James’s translation reproduces the same wonderful momentum of the original Italian that propels the reader along the pilgrim’s path from Hell to Heaven, from despair to revelation.