Welcome to the shadowed forest!

Bruce N H

Member
Hi all,

Thanks for getting this forum going, Doorward. As much as I'm enjoying Morgoth's Ring, I'm excited to jump into Dante. I actually missed class the last couple of weeks, so when I listened to the podcast version over the weekend, when Corey announced the books that were being voted on in class 11 I had to immediately stop and listen to class 12 to find which book won.

Bruce
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
I'm excited for this book! I'm not much of one for poetry as such, but I'm really interested in hearing about the mixture of myth, history, and theology in the structure of Hell and the identities of its denizens.
 
Just checking in on this: is there any update on the timing of when this might start? Apologies, have been very detached from everything for a while as I got a puppy.:)
 

Bruce N H

Member
Dolorous - Last week's Morgoth's Ring ended with material from page 345 of the Houghton Mifflin hardcover (about a page into The Tale of Adanel). Corey said this week we would finish up the Athrabeth and start into the final section of Morgoth's Ring - Myths Transformed. That's about 60 more pages of text, so, you know, it could be a couple of years or so. :) More seriously, I'm way behind on reading so haven't read that section yet, so I can't predict whether it's stuff Corey will do a more surface skim of or whether there are passages we'll take multiple weeks to get through (though just randomly flipping through pages I see an essay on orcs that I'll bet we take a whole week on). I'll predict we finish Morgoth's Ring by Thanksgiving, but not too much before that.

Too bad, as Halloween would have been a great time to start our trip through Hell.

-

Oh, yay puppy! Do you have pictures?
 

Wfhound

New Member
During class, how do we respond to the professor's questions? Do I use the Question feature on GoToWebinar? Thanks.
 

Alyriel

New Member
I was very excited seeing that Inferno had won the vote, though I do have reservations about the Mandelbaum translation. Favorite translation I guess can be quite a subjective decision, probably heavily influenced by first exposure to the text.

Anyone looking to sample another besides Mandelbaum, Robert Hollander's translation is also available, both printed version, and as free digital version at the Princeton Dante Project: https://dante.princeton.edu/
 

Bruce N H

Member
Hey,

Thanks for that link. I'm going back and forth. I'm reading the Mandelbaum online, but also Apple Podcasts has a free audiobook of the Longfellow translation that I've been listening to on walks. Finally I've got the Penguin books Sayers translation, which I love. I know and understand Corey's arguments against a translation that works to preserve the rhyme scheme, but I think Sayers' work here is amazing. Plus there's her friendship with Lewis which is a plus. Anyway, (according to an article I read online) she saw her translation of the Comedy (Barbara Reynolds finished her work on Paradiso after her death) as her most important work.

My general take on translation is to, when possible, consult multiple good ones when there is some question that focuses on details of wording. E.g. since I don't read Greek or Hebrew, I'll sometimes look up things on BibleHub, which lets you take a bible verse and then gives it from over 20 different translations. I like that the site Corey links to above lets you put the Mandelbaum and Longfellow translations side by side, so that you can scan back and forth and look for similarities and differences (or put the Italian next to either, which is kind of fun to look at to at least puzzle out how things sound). I wish there was a site that would let you put multiple other translations side by side (or if there is one, please let me know).

Bruce
 

Yard Sard

New Member
I have to say I'm having a hard time with a lot of the sessions because so much of the attention is getting spent on the specific word choices of the translation.

Right at the beginning Corey dwelt for like 10 minutes on all the possible interpretations and levels of meaning in "the path that does not stray", like hey this is contrasted with the narrator straying, it wasn't the path doing the straying, and here are all the forms of allegory being employed, etc. But I mean come on — the Italian is la diritta via. "The straight way", "the direct way". Not many layers of meaning there. (Plus, well, Longfellow rendered it as "the straightforward pathway".) Talking about "straying" was just the translator shoehorning in a word for the sake of rhyme.

And then shortly afterward when Virgil is introduced, there's all this musing and dithering over whether the adjective "faint" refers to how weak his voice is, or maybe he's dark and hard to see, or he is fainting, who knows? All these mysteries! Well ... just go to the Italian, can't we? Per lungo silenzio parea fioco. Fioco. Which can be translated as "dim" (visual) or "faint" (auditory), but Longfellow decided meant "hoarse". So, okay, great, that's a bit more ambiguous, and worth discussing why the translators chose those different interpretations. But it wasn't Dante's intent, was it? The ambiguity isn't in the original. Nor is it fair to say that the different paths taken by translators count as different layers of allegorical meaning by the author.

I know Corey said right at the outset that he wouldn't be teaching from the Italian because he doesn't feel comfortable enough in it, but I feel like even if you don't actually know the language conversationally it's kind of a fundamentally important part of a course like this to be sure we're clear on what source material we're actually talking about and analyzing — that we're not admiring the picnic tables and snack bar at the archaeological site.

Sorry that I only ever post when I have a gripe, but this is so distracting I just have to say something or else wear my teeth to stubs.
 

exoskeletonkey

New Member
So, okay, great, that's a bit more ambiguous, and worth discussing why the translators chose those different interpretations. But it wasn't Dante's intent, was it? The ambiguity isn't in the original.
This is a fair point. One thing to consider is that these sessions are more of an unstructured read-along with someone as they think out-loud about what they are reading. If you want something a little more rehearsed and concise, I highly recommend Timothy Shutt's "Dante and His Divine Comedy" lectures (from the criminally underrated Modern Scholar series). The Teaching Company also has a course on the Divine Comedy, but I didn't find it to be as good.

Of course, I recommend you stick with the Mythgard sessions as well. Are you maybe sitting down at your computer and watching the video stream? I think I would pull my hair out if I did that. I like to use a podcast app to listen to the audio version, especially out for a walk. A lot of the charm of Corey's lectures is in the relaxed pace that he takes with the text and the organic process of discovery through thinking out loud. The occasional conceptual blind-alley is just part of the fun.
 

Yard Sard

New Member
Oh sure, I mean I've been listening to Corey for enough years that I know what the score is. (I mostly listen while driving or on the treadmill.) Just, some things are described as "courses" and it seems like there's a bit more expectation there of fewer blind alleys.

Thanks for the rec; one way or another I probably still do enjoy this better than a drier "real" lecture series, but it's worth looking into.
 

exoskeletonkey

New Member
I probably still do enjoy this better than a drier "real" lecture series, but it's worth looking into.
Give Shutt a try, he is not dry at all! His lectures follow a sort of formula of historical/literary context followed by a memorable anecdote (kind of similar to Elizabeth Vandiver's fantastic Classical Greece courses). If you don't want to risk an Audible credit, it might be available through your library. This Hoopla link might work depending on which subscription level your library has.
 

Bruce N H

Member
I love the Modern Scholar series and listened to all the ones my local library had. Do they still exist, or were they killed off by podcasts and youtube and other material that's free online? I know I've listened to a couple of Timothy Shutt courses and really enjoyed them.
 

exoskeletonkey

New Member
The Modern Scholar series seems to drop off sometime around 2014. Not sure why they stopped, but the guy behind the series went on to host a themed tour company that looks pretty cool. They use mostly TMS professors as guides. In fact, it looks like Shutt is doing a Dante tour this year (which makes sense because Italy is celebrating the 700th anniversary of his death.
 
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