A Closer Look Book Club reads Inferno by Dante

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
The University of Arizona Poetry Center 1508 E Helen St Tucson AZ, 85721

The Closer Look Book Club meets throughout the year to discuss novels and other works of fiction. To participate in a Book Club conversation, all you need to do is read the book and then join us in the Dorothy Rubel Room at the Poetry Center. No sign-up is necessary: the Club is free and open to the public, and you’re welcome to participate in as many or as few meetings as you like.
This fall, the Book Club reads a wide range of narratives translated into English: The Hour of the Star, a novella by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector; the Inferno transmuted as a brand-new translation by poet Mary Jo Bang; and Swann’s Way, one of the great influences on twentieth-century literature, rendered by brilliant Lydia Davis. Please be sure to read the editions specified so that we’re all on the same page! All book club selections will be available for purchase at the Poetry Center gift kiosk.

Inferno by Dante Alighieri (translated by Mary Jo Bang)
The award-winning poet Mary Jo Bang has translated the Inferno into English at a moment when popular culture is so prevalent that it has even taken Dante, author of the fourteenth-century epic poem The Divine Comedy, and turned him into an action-adventure video-game hero. Dante, a master of innovation, wrote his poem in the vernacular, rather than in literary Latin. Bang has similarly created an idiomatically rich contemporary version that is accessible, musical, and audacious. She’s matched Dante’s own liberal use of allusion and literary borrowing by incorporating literary and cultural references familiar to contemporary readers: Shakespeare and Dickinson, Freud and South Park, Kierkegaard and Stephen Colbert. Bang’s version is true to the original: lyrical, politically astute, occasionally self-mocking, and deeply moving. With haunting illustrations by Henrik Drescher, this is the most readable Inferno available in English, a truly remarkable achievement.