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::: Inferno (Dante / Sayers)

Finished the Dorothy Sayers' translation of Dante's Inferno. She has such an unbelievable command of the English language. I should have guessed, based on the Lord Peter books and The Mind of the Maker, but I didn't realize she could do poetry as well. Heck, even her introduction is a pleasure to read, it just...flows.

I mean, look at this:

[Dante] said himself afterwards that he had been lacking in prudence; and he had, indeed, three gifts hampering to the career of the practical politician: an unaccommodating temper, a blistering tongue, and an indecent superfluity of brains.

"Indecent superfluity of brains." I love it. Or this one:

This theory by which "all power, temporal as well as spiritual, belonged to the Pope, who delegated it to the Emperor, and through him to the other monarchs, temporal power for the perfect unification of the world in the reign of Christ," located the Kingdom not in eternity but in time, and so, like much modern socialistic theory, had the effect of shutting up God inside history, and making the Church an instrument for building the perfect secular state.

Talk about your well-constructed sentences. For the poem itself she not only translates but manages to retain the rhyme scheme without sounding forced or artificial. I read bits of it out loud, it's that good. I think I'll try Purgatorio. I'm sure it won't be as diverting as Inferno -- I mean, how can it be, with no demons or pitchforks or rivers of boiling blood? -- but her writing will make it great fun even without those little details.

That will have to wait until I've finished the piece of classic trash I'm reading at the moment, though: Forever Amber. Charles II, cavaliers, cloaks and swords, Dukes and Countesses and Kings, balls and highwaymen and country houses, plague and the Great Fire of London... Saw the movie again the other day, with Cornel Wilde and Linda Darnell, and got the urge to re-read it. Decadent trash, but great fun -- right up there with Salem's Daughter (how can you not love a book with lines like, "Jean-Pierre La Crosse does not take an unwilling woman," LOL?!?).




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