Recepient of 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship
Danteâs Vita Nova (circa 1292â1295) depicts the joys and sorrows, the discoveries and conflicts of Danteâs early love for Beatriceâwho would achieve later and even greater fame in Commediaâstarting with his first sighting of her and culminating in his prevision of Beatrice among the beatified in heaven. Award-winning translator and poet Andrew Frisardi channels the vigor and nuance of Danteâs first masterpiece for a modern audience.
The âlittle book,â as Dante calls it, consists of thirty-one lyric poÂemsâmostly sonnetsâembedded in a prose narrative, which both reÂcounts an apparently autobiographical set of events also evoked in the poems and offers analysis of the poemsâ construction in the medieval critical tradition of divisio textus, or division of the text. Dante selected poetry he had written before age twenty-eight or so and wrote the prose to shape it into a story. The poems anthologize Danteâs growth as a poet, from the influence of his earliest mentors to the stylistic and thematic breakthroughs of his poetic coming-of-age.
The interplay of poetry and prose in Vita Nova, along with the furÂther distinction in the latter between autobiography and critical diÂvisiones, presents a particular challenge for any translator. Frisardi faithfully voices the complex meter and rhyme schemes of the poetry while capturing the tone of each of the prose styles. His introduction and in-depth annotations provide additional context for the twenty-first-century reader.
—Paul Mariani, Boston College, author of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life and Deaths and Transfigurations: Poems
—Rosanna Warren, Boston University, author of Ghost in a Red Hat: Poems and Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry