We've had Dante in Leicestershire on the blog before, and now it's the turn of Essex. Before the summer we had the great pleasure of welcoming to Bristol Philip Terry, author of a recently published translation of Dante's Inferno, who was the guest at a round table and reading hosted by Dr Ellen O'Gorman of the Department of Classics and Ancient History.
You can read Ellen's account of the event here.
Terry's Inferno takes a completely brilliant slant on a text that has already been translated scores of times by transposing the action to the present day and the University of Essex campus (of which I have bitter memories, having once got totally lost there). The opening tercet pretty much sets the scene:
Halfway through a bad tripVirgil becomes Ted Berrigan, ex-writer-in-residence at the University. The intertextual references throng thick and fast. It is not Beatrice who urges Berrigan to rescue the poet, but 'Marina':
I found myself in this stinking car park,
Underground, miles from Amarillo.
I come from a place I must quickly return to,Part of the purpose of the translation is to offer a commentary on UK higher education today. (The choice of text already gives us a great honking clue as to what Terry thinks of that.) A 'digital display / Above the entrance to the Knowledge Gateway' reads:
For I need to give a talk at the
British Library, this same afternoon,
Where there is a symposium on the sonnet,
With Jeff Hilson and Paul Muldoon -
When I return there, often will I sing your praise."
She was silent then, so I began:
"Oh Lady of Grace, aren't you that
Lady writer on the TV
Talking about the Virgin Mary
Celebrated in that Dire Straits song?
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE DOLEFUL CAMPUS,You can find Canto 13 of Terry's translation, with a few words about the concept behind the translation here. Readers with a London Review of Books subscription can read Canto I here. Excerpts from Cantos 1 and 18 can be read here. A bit of Canto 33 can be read here. Truly the internet is a marvellous thing. But what you should really do is just go buy the book.
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO ETERNAL DEBT,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE FORSAKEN GENERATION.