The Divine Comedy by Dante, translated by Clive James 

The Divine Comedy by Dante, translated by Clive James 

There is an astonishment, a certain mad arrogance (or even madder humility) in presenting an English translation of Dante's Divine Comedy to a 21st Century audience without any accompanying notes. Purists might say 'the poem - any poem - should be able to stand on its own, to speak clearly without the crutch of notes' - but such purists are seldom translators.

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The Tools We Need

The Tools We Need

The panic that arose across the country as the incredible reality of a Trump presidency began to sink in hit the book world with particular force. In his temperament, style and values, the new president seems almost purpose-built to oppose everything Barack Obama has stood for and accomplished. (The only things they appear to have in common are a love of golf and an on again-off again friendship with Hillary Clinton.) In few aspects is the gulf wider than in their respective attitudes to reading. 

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Not One to Eschew the Everyday

Not One to Eschew the Everyday

Daniel Brown is, if his poetry is any indication, a very patient man. “I’m as open as the next guy,” he writes in “The Biggie,” a poem from his latest collection, What More?, “to the counterintuitive.” This he proves again and again, in both openness and unexpectedness. What More? begins with Brown asking an honest question, one so honest that an animating tension is introduced between the candor of the content and the art of its presentation.

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Reading Poetry

Reading Poetry

Helen Vendler, A. Kingsley Porter Professor at Harvard University, begins her new book with what she calls an “account of [her] life as a critic” – a reasonable subject for an introduction, given that, at the time this review is published, Vendler will have just passed her 82nd birthday. More relevant, though, is that The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar is the latest of nearly 30 books authored or edited by Vendler since the 1960’s, over the course of which, in addition to hundreds of reviews and essays, she has become known as perhaps the finest living critic of poetry in America.

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Byron in Love by Edna O'Brien

Byron in Love by Edna O'Brien

When Dr. Ireland, Dean of Westminster Abbey, was asked by the late poet’s friends about the possibility of Lord Byron taking up a place in Poet’s Corner, they were sternly told, “Carry the body away and say as little about it as possible.” If all would-by Byron biographers had followed that sound advice since his death in 1824, the world would have been spared a great quivering mass of twaddle. . .

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