Finally I realised that I had been practising for this job every time I wrote a quatrain ...I had spent all this time - the greater part of a lifetime - preparing my instruments The Divine Comedy is the precursor of modern literature, and Clive James's new translation - his life's work and decades in the making - presents Dante's entire epic poem in a single song. While many poets and translators have attempted to capture the full glory of The Divine Comedy in English, many have fallen short. Victorian verse translations established an unfortunate tradition of reproducing the sprightly rhyming measures of Dante but at the same time betraying the strain on the translator's powers of invention. For Dante, the dramatic human stories of Hell were exciting, but the spiritual studies of Purgatory and the sublime paramas of Heaven were less so. In this incantatory new translation, James - defying the convention by writing in quatrains - tackles these problems head-on and creates a striking and hugely accessible translation that gives us The Divine Comedy as a whole, unified, and dramatic work.
Clive James is the author of more than forty books. As well as verse and novels, he has published collections of essays, literary criticism, television criticism and travel writing, plus five volumes of autobiography. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature. His other poetry collections include Collected Poems, Angels Over Elsinore, Opal Sunset and Sentenced to Life, and he is also the author of a verse commentary on Proust, Gate of Lilacs.