Saturday, November 5, 2011

Allen Mandelbaum (1926–2011)

The translator Allen Mandelbaum has died at the age of eighty-five. From the New York Times obituary:

Mr. Mandelbaum was well known for his translations of the modern Italian poets Giuseppe Ungaretti and Salvatore Quasimodo, and for his Aeneid, which won the National Book Award in 1973. His verse translation of The Divine Comedy was published in three volumes by the University of California Press in the early 1980s and was later brought out by Bantam in an inexpensive paperback edition that is still used widely in college courses.
I like his Dante and Metamorphoses. Looking at Inferno this morning, I thought this last line of Canto I a fitting tribute to Mandelbaum’s work:
Then he set out, and I moved on behind him.
That’s Dante of course, speaking of Virgil. Like Virgil, the translator too is a guide to what might otherwise remain inaccessible.

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