Digital Dante.

Another great thing on the internet:

Digital Dante offers original research and ideas on Dante: on his thought and work and on various aspects of his reception. Though our editorial structure is that of an academic journal, we do not publish prose essays, instead showcasing work that intersperses prose with visual components (see Author Guidelines). We accept contributions from scholars and Dante lovers around the world.

We feature original scholarship on Dante in three different contexts:

1) The Commento Baroliniano is the first online commentary to the Divine Comedy. The Commento is an original work written expressly for Digital Dante and it distills a lifetime of scholarship.

2) Intertextual Dante is a vehicle for intertextual study of the Divine Comedy developed by Julie Van Peteghem and featuring her original scholarship on Dante and Ovid.

3) Image, Sound, History and Text are the categories through which we present original pieces contributed by artists, philosophers, and scholars from around the world.

I discovered it by googling a line and being directed to a page of the Commento Baroliniano; gobsmacked, I investigated further and found the riches above. I’ve only read Dante as a whole in translation (though of course I’ve read bits and snatches in the original); if I ever get around to doing him up right, this will be a constant companion.


  1. AJP Crown says

    Divine Comedy features Dante’s text in the Petrocchi edition with English translations by Mandelbaum and Longfellow.

    Wow, too American for me. Mandelbaum is supposed to be good but Longfellow! This is 2020 and it’s meant to be a translation. Where’s Clive James?

  2. AJP Crown says

    I was reading this review in the LRB earlier, of Marion Turner’s interesting-sounding biography of Chaucer. I’d never thought of this:

    Chaucer was among the first English readers of Dante, although the mysterious Pearl Poet seems to have read him even earlier. During the 1370s and 1380s he engaged intensively with the Commedia, but his admiration chiefly took the forms of resistance and parody. As Turner argues, Chaucer is to Dante as Ovid is to Virgil, the two classical poets most widely studied and imitated in the Middle Ages. Virgil was too great a poet to be a mere propagandist for Caesar Augustus, and he wasn’t blind to the costs of conquest. His sympathies nevertheless lay with ‘pius Aeneas’ rather than forsaken Dido. To side with Aeneas was to side with divine will, masculine virtus, imperial destiny and immortal Rome. Dante raised the stakes even higher when he called the New Jerusalem ‘that Rome of which Christ is a Roman’.

    Almost before the verses of the Aeneid had dried on the page, a writer of utterly different sensibility stepped forward to subvert them. Ovid was everything Virgil was not: a poet of illicit love, light-hearted flirtation and female voices. In the Metamorphoses, he gave flesh to an anti-establishment metaphysic, depicting the gods as amoral sadists in a world whose only constant is change. In the Heroides, a series of passionate letters from abandoned women to their betrayers, Ovid lets Dido tell her own story and berate the faithless Aeneas for sailing away by night, too cowardly to say farewell. Medieval readers were keenly aware of the two poets’ clashing accounts, but in The House of Fame Chaucer audaciously combines them. It’s his most explicitly Dantesque poem: ‘Geffrey’ rides on an eagle’s back like the pilgrim Dante, yet this bird is comic, not a source of transcendent revelation. The poem breaks off abruptly with the appearance of ‘a man of gret auctorite’ – but unlike Dante’s Virgil, he is never named and doesn’t speak. In fact, authority is typically undermined in Chaucer’s poems. Dante’s exalted voice may even have supplied the negative inspiration for his trademark bumbling persona. Ignorant and devoid of any poetic skill, Chaucer – according to one of his own characters – has ruined all the good stories. The English poet’s exaggerated humility responds to the Italian’s hyperbolic authority.

    They’re both American too, of course, Turner and the reviewer. Maybe Britain’s packed up and retired to the country but what about all the other former colonies?

  3. Very interesting quote, thanks for that!

  4. AJP Crown says

    Yes, I want to read the Marion Turner.

  5. Interesting resources, thanks –

    I’m reading Dante in Italian on my phone before bed – I have an e-book version of this edition

    … which has so many notes, at least one extensive footnote per line, that I’m only on Canto 20 after a year (also, I fall asleep a lot).

    One observation I’ve made so far is that several of the notes which explain Dante’s latinisms – which are clearly confusing to modern Italians – are more than self-explanatory to me. For example, I think Dante uses the term “parenti” a couple of times, which the editor takes the time to carefully point out means “genitori”.

    I guess that’s a general benefit of reading something that’s not in your mother tongue – since it’s all slightly alien and all slightly frustrating, you plod right over speed bumps that might trip up a native speaker.

  6. Nice to meet you and your blog! Interesting that I found here when googling “Digital Dante”. Thanks for the info. I think I’m going to wander along this blog 🙂

    P.S. There’s another Dante site you might find useful : “Dante Lab”
    it’s a interactive online reader.

  7. Thanks!

  8. John Cowan says

    AJP: The reason for Longfellow’s translation of Dante is that he’s out of copyright. The British equivalent, more or less, is Cary’s translation.

  9. AJP Crown says

    Oh, ok.
    Yeah, but who wants an equivalent of something so out-of-date? The point of translation is translation. Making as many aspects as possible of the original understandable. Otherwise, unless there’s something inherently remarkable about it, in which case I’m reading it as Longfellow not as Dante, I might as well look at the original. I want Clive James’s translation. Much more interesting than Longfellow for someone my age & background.

  10. Digital Dante appeared to have been hacked a while back & is now non-existent? Devastated. I was using it as a main reference for my autodidactic, word-parsing translation of Dante’s Inferno on Twitter (with devil-may-care commentary). @ormelling1 Amused by objections to Longfellow’s version above. He’s one of the closest word-by-word translators, true to original text. And he’s a poet. I believe Dante would have approved. PS website under renovation.

  11. Thanks for alerting me; I’ve substituted archived versions for the links in the text, and hopefully they’ll allow you to carry on with your studies and translation. If Columbia fixes the site, I hope somebody lets me know so I can replace the links.

  12. Grazie! I’ll keep an eye on the url as I’ll be at this a long time & will let you know if/when back up. It’s such important material & Barolini’s commentary so brilliant, they must be working to re-install it. ORM

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