25 March is Dantedì… Dante Day.

I would be remiss were I not to mention that Italy – and the whole world – is celebrating a Year of Dante.   2021 is the 700th anniversary of the death of arguably the greatest of all poets.  The English language publication Wanted In Rome has a pretty good round up article HERE.

There are some great events in Italy to mark the centennial.

25 March is Dantedì… Dante Day.  A national holiday.

It nigh on impossible to convey the importance of Dante’s work, which of course the tri-partite La Divina Commedia.

What I can do here, and you who know not Dante or know little, will thank me, is point you to a good translation and some fun music.

For good translations, try the late, great Inkling Dorothy Sayers’ translation.  She died while working on the Paradiso, but her assistant did an admirable job in completing the Part 1, Inferno, US HERE – UK HERE).

Another good translation is by Anthony Esolen. Part 1, Inferno- US HERE – UK HERE).

Do NOT make the mistake of reading only the Inferno.  The really good stuff comes later in the Purgatorio and Paradiso.

Be smart in your approach to Dante.  Read straight through a canto to get the line of thought and story and then go back over it looking at the notes in your edition.  Sayers has good notes.  Esolen has great notes.  Dante was, I think, the last guy who knew everything.  Hence, every Canto is dense with references.  You will need notes to help with the history, philosophy, cosmology, poetic theory, politics, theology, etc.  Really.

You. Will. Need. Help.  Take it.

There are many online sites.  For example HERE.

For some good music to play while reading your Dante.

The Dante Troubadours

Lo Mio Servente Core: Music at the Time of Dante

Dante and the Troubadours

There are volumes of commentaries by Charles S. Singleton. Not cheap but good for advanced work.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. xavier says:

    What Italian edition would you recommend?


  2. Padre Pio Devotee says:

    Your words are very true: the best stuff really does shine through in Purgatorio and Paradisio.
    Took a college course on The Divine Comedy five years ago and I still constantly reference and reflect on that work. We used the Mandlebaum translation. Robert Royal also has an excellent work on The Divine Comedy for beginners.

    [Yes. Royal’s book is helpful!]


  3. samwise says:

    Thanks Fr! Another way to celebrate my son’s birthday.

    Also for Dante, wanted to recommend University of Texas at Austin’s DANTEWORLDS. http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/purgatory/index.html
    Great tutorials, especially Purgatorio, of climbing the Mountain through each vice toward virtue

  4. Mariana2 says:

    The 25th of March is of course also the first day of the new year in Gondor.

  5. Andreas says:

    Xavier; Might I suggest The Italian Dante Society edition. I have the 1949 Ulruci Hoepli (Milano) edition which includes a wealth of notes and commentary by Giuseppe Vandelli.

  6. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    Can I recommend a couple of books by Fr Paul Pearson CO of the Toronto Oratory. The first is Spiritual Direction from Dante: Avoiding the Inferno, and is a commentary on Book 1 of The Divine Comedy, and the second is Spiritual Direction from Dante: Ascending Mount Purgatory, which is a commentary on Book 2. Both are available from Amazon

  7. Joe in Canada says:



  8. Charles Singelton was my Dante professor years ago at the Johns Hopkins University. Wonderful memories. My note taking in those days was close to taking a lecture down verbatim—that destroyed my penmanship—and, if any reader wants a PDF of the notes, contact information for me is here: http://musicasacra.com/dominican/address.pdf

  9. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I too recommend Singleton.

  10. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    I’m so glad that the 800 comes from another, Canadian, Joe. Here is a London Joe with the same message, but not as a criticism, as my typing is woefully inaccurate, and hypocrisy not in the spirit of Dante. At least not the bits of him one would wish to occupy.

    Happy Dantedì !

  11. 2021-1321=700

    Perhaps someone has imbibed of that “2+2=5” thing that Jesuits seem to be into.

  12. crjs1 says:

    I must dust off my copies and reread! I originally read the Robin Kirkpatrick translations, which I enjoyed, but am keen to try others.

    I read the Holy Father’s apostolic letter on Dante Candor lucis aeternae published this week. It was surprisingly quite beautifully written (and not too long!!!)

  13. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    700! I never could count! Thank you, dear Father, you never disappoint!

  14. Cameron466 says:

    Planning to teach this to my high school students in our last term. Prayers would be appreciated—have read it before but not studied but in a course, and have not taught it of course.

    Planning to do around 10-14 cantos of each book rather than just the Inferno, since I don’t think we’ll have time for the whole thing and this crowd is graduating this year. But with proper planning I can do the whole thing with next year’s group.

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