The New Life is the masterpiece of Dante’s youth, an account of his love for Beatrice, the girl who was to become his lifelong muse, and of her tragic early death. An allegory of the soul’s crisis and growth, combining prose and poetry, narrative and meditation, dreams and songs and prayers, this work of crystalline beauty and fascinating complexity has long taken its place as one of the supreme revelations in the literature of love.
The New Life is published here in the beautiful translation by the English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, an inspired poetic re-creation comparable to Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a classic in its own right.
I saw that Rossetti had made a remarkable translation of the Vita Nuova [The New Life], in some places improving (or at least enriching) the original; that he was indubitably the man “sent” or “chosen” for that particular job.Rossetti made his own language.
— Ezra Pound
[Rossetti’s translation is] the fruit of countless hours of brooding over Italian painting, Italian images, Italian sounds and thoughts.
— John Wain
The Inferno of Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri
This is a Dante not for the shelf but for the eye and voice—addictively readable, virtually demanding to be recited aloud.
— Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times
Dante himself was evidently Carson’s kindred spirit after all…the language makes eloquent upward soarings at one moment and vulgar dives into the vernacular at the next, moving like a bolt of lightning from gravity to punchy immediacy.
— The Financial Times
This translation by the fine writer from Northern Ireland of Dante’s Inferno not only reminds us, too, of how integral a part of our contemporary experience the Inferno is. Carson’s underworld is no antiquated punishment chamber; rather, it is a hell for our times.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Dante’s Divine Comedy was originally written in colloquial Italian and was meant as entertainment for the average reader. This new translation by Irish writer Ciaran Carson attempts to convey both Dante’s thought-provoking wit and the idiomatic elements that made The Inferno more palatable to contemporary readers. Carson does so by incorporating Hiberno-English idioms into the English translation, a decision that has earned him comparison to Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
— Translation Review