PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Jason Allen-Paisant, Reclaiming Time: On Blackness and Landscape Tara Bergin, Five Poems Miles Burrows, Icelandic Journal Jonathan E Hirschfeld, Against Oblivion Colm Toibin, From Vinegar Hill
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This review is taken from PN Review 173, Volume 33 Number 3, January - February 2007.

HARPING ON HELL Dante in English, edited by Eric Griffiths and Matthew Reynolds (Penguin, Poets in Translation) £16.99

In 1873, Rimbaud issued the imperative to be 'absolutely modern... no more canticles'. The reference is to canticles in the religious sense of hymns of thanksgiving, and surely no reader could project such an edict onto the cantiche of the Divine Comedy. For while Wallace Stevens, in this anthology, is quoted as saying 'the time will come when poems like Paradise will seem like very triste contraptions', the existence of such a book as Dante in English is testament to the poet's enduring hold over the Anglophone imagination in a now secular society.

Oxbridge academics both, Eric Griffiths and Matthew Reynolds published their anthology in 2005, since when it has attracted the interest of numerous reviewers, among them Helen Vendler. Although her criticism of it in the London Review of Books received a terse rebuttal from Griffiths through the Letters pages, it was yet reflective of the controversy surrounding the collection. A curious hybrid text, halfway down that path between expert and novice reader, it seems neither for the newcomer to Dante nor for his scholars. It is however, an interesting addition to the Dantean corpus, and provides a good companion piece to The Poets ' Dante, edited by Peter S. Hawkins and Rachel Jacoff (2001).

The anthology comprises translations and borrowings from Dante by poets writing in English, with four categories distinguished: poems which translate or derive from Dante; poems ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image