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Authors: Dante


BOOK: Paradiso
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Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Doubleday, an imprint of The Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2007.

Anchor Books and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Excerpt from Virgil’s
The Aeneid
, translation © Robert Fagles, 2006. Reprinted by kind permission of Viking Penguin, a division of the Penguin Group, Inc., and Robert Fagles.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Doubleday edition as follows:
Dante Alighieri, 1265–1321.
 [Paradiso. English]
Paradiso / Dante Alighieri ; a verse translation by Robert & Jean Hollander ; introduction & notes by Robert Hollander.
p. cm.
I. Hollander, Robert, 1933– II. Hollander, Jean, 1928–
III. Title.
PQ4315.4.H65 2007

eISBN: 978-0-307-80595-9

Author photographs © Pryde Brown
Cover painting: Annunciatory Angel by Fra Angelico,
Bequest of Eleanor Clay Ford/The Detroit Institute of Arts/The Bridgeman Art Library
Cover design by Kathy DiGrado
Book design by Pei Loi Koay



Cornelia (A.R.)

& Dr. Buzz

A Note on Using This eBook

In this eBook edition of
, you will find two types of hyperlinks.

The first type is embedded in the line numbers to the left of the text: these links allow you to click back and forth between the English translation and the original Italian text while still holding your place.

The second type of link, which is indicated by an arrow (→) at the end of a line of poetry, will bring you to an explanatory a note.

You can click on an arrow to navigate to the appropriate note; you can then use the links at the end of each note to return to your location in either the English translation or the original Italian text. You can also click on the note number to return to your location in the English translation.


Since our goals in translating the third
of Dante’s poem are not in substance different from those that animated our translation of the first and second, the reader is asked to consult the similar notices that precede our translations of
(Doubleday 2000; Anchor 2002) and of
(Doubleday 2003; Anchor 2004).
, however, presents some challenges different from those encountered in the first two
. Needless to say, we have again attempted to give as accurate a sense of the poetry and meaning of the Italian text as the English language and our abilities allow. The language and style of this part of the poem are, in many respects, dramatically different from those to which the reader has become accustomed in the previous
. As we suggested in the front matter for the second volume, “While surely we must acknowledge that
are very different poetic places, they nonetheless maintain some arrestingly similar elements. From the vantage point of
the second canticle looks much more like its predecessor than like its successor.” Indeed,
is not only unique within Dante’s oeuvre; it is simply unique. Theology set to music, as it were, it pushes its reader (not to mention its translators) to the limit.

A particular problem facing translators of the
involves one of its distinguishing features: neologisms, or words new to the Italian language and essentially invented by their creator. The current estimate of the number of neologisms in the poem runs to around ninety, with the great bulk of these appearing in
(see Ferrante [Ferr.1983.1], p. 131, n. 10). It seems appropriate that the requirements of expressing the higher realities of God’s realm involve linguistic novelties of the most radical kind. Some of these we have attempted to bring over into English, when Dante’s coinage seems so striking that
reader would have to pay astonished
attention to the violence done “standard Italian”; for example, the verb
. XIII.57), literally “to inthree itself,” which Dante employs to speak of the Holy Spirit’s involvement with the other two Persons of the Trinity, and which we have translated with an English neologism, “the Love that is
with them.” Others we have not, especially when it seemed to us that his usage borders on the “ordinarily daring” language one associates with almost any poetic making, for example, the verb
. XVIII.113), which literally means “to enlily itself,” but is fairly obviously meant to indicate what our translation suggests it does, i.e., “to make itself into a lily.” In other words, the first class of neologisms is the linguistic equivalent of self-consciously audacious metaphor, and, like it, is obviously intended to make a reader reel, while the second is closer to our normal expectations of heightened poetic language; it may surprise, but does not shock. It is, naturally, not exactly easy to make such distinctions. It is also true that the difficulty of bringing the effect of a neologism into a second language is another complicating factor. Sometimes Dante’s daring thrusts simply do not “feel right” in English. In short, the reader should be aware that our practice in this regard is various.

We are once again grateful to two friends born in Italy and born to Dante for their willingness to sample our translations and my footnotes with a knowing eye. Margherita Frankel, formerly a professor of Italian at New York University, was her usual careful and exacting self as she examined our materials. The same must be said of Simone Marchesi, who studied with me when he was a graduate student at Princeton and has now returned to the university to teach students how to read Dante in his own courses. We are pleased to express our continuing gratitude to them both. This translation has brought us into contact with people whom we did not know before. It has been pleasing to hear from readers in this country, England, and Australia who have enjoyed our English-speaking Dante. And two of them were not only appreciative, but helpful. Professors of law Clayton Gillette (NYU) and Stephen Morse (Pennsylvania) paid for their enjoyment of
by reading the penultimate drafts of
and of
and sharing their questions and comments with us; we are deeply grateful to both of them, in part for demonstrating to me exactly why I have always used the adjective “lawyerly” (as in “a lawyerly argument”) in a positive sense. Finally, I would like to acknowledge those graduate students who worked with me on this
, first in 1980 (Carolyn Calvert Phipps, Micaela Janan, Albert Rossi, Stephen Rupp, Alex Sheers) and then in 1986 (Sheila Colwell, Roberta Davidson, Martin Elzinga, Frank Ordiway, Lauren Scancarelli Seem). I hope that their memories of those seminars glow half as bright as mine.

Gerald Howard, in addition to his more significant titles and duties at Random House, has been our editor for some years now. It was his support that made publication of our work possible and his continuing clear-headed and keen-eyed editorial supervision that has helped keep the project on an even keel. And we are grateful as well to all at Random House and Anchor Books (including three former students of mine at Princeton: Rakesh Satyal, Alice Van Straalen, and Anne Merrow) who have taken such obvious pleasure in their association with this project.

27 November 2005 (Hopewell)

This first Anchor edition has some sixty changes in the translation, some thirty in the commentary, and six additions to the bibliography.

30 January 2008 (Hopewell)

This second edition includes some dozen changes in the translation and some fifty in the notes.

18 January 2012 (Hopewell)


1.  Dante’s works:

De vulgari eloquentia
Questio de aqua et terra
Rime dub.
Rime dubbie
Vita nuova
Il Detto d’Amore
(“attributable to Dante” [Contini])
Il Fiore
(“attributable to Dante” [Contini])
BOOK: Paradiso
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