La Vita Nuova

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Penguin Books, 1969 - French poetry - 123 pages
4 Reviews
Dante's sequence of poems tells the story of his passion for Beatrice, the beautiful sister of one of his closest friends, transformed through his writing into the symbol of a love that was both spiritual and romantic. Vita Nuova begins with the moment Dante first glimpses Beatrice in her childhood, follows him through unrequited passion and ends with his profound grief over the loss of his love. Interspersing exquisite verse with Dante's own commentary analysing the structure and origins of each poem, Vita Nuova offers a unique insight into the poet's art and skill. And, by introducing personal experience into the strict formalism of medieval love poetry, it marked a turning point in European literature. Barbara Reynolds's translation is remarkable for its lucidity and faithfulness to the original. In her new introduction she examines the ways in which Dante broke with poetic conventions of his day and analyses his early poetry within the context of his life. This revised edition also contains notes, a chronology and an index of first lines. --Penguin Books.

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User Review  - gcamp - LibraryThing

Dante lived in an era when 'courtly love' or 'unrequitted love' was common. This was during the age of chivalry, and was often a secret love between members of nobility. Dante was very much in love ... Read full review

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User Review  - Fledgist - LibraryThing

A modern translation of Dante's lyric verse. Read full review

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About the author (1969)

Born Dante Alighieri in the spring of 1265 in Florence, Italy, he was known familiarly as Dante. His family was noble, but not wealthy, and Dante received the education accorded to gentlemen, studying poetry, philosophy, and theology. His first major work was Il Vita Nuova, The New Life. This brief collection of 31 poems, held together by a narrative sequence, celebrates the virtue and honor of Beatrice, Dante's ideal of beauty and purity. Beatrice was modeled after Bice di Folco Portinari, a beautiful woman Dante had met when he was nine years old and had worshipped from afar in spite of his own arranged marriage to Gemma Donati. Il Vita Nuova has a secure place in literary history: its vernacular language and mix of poetry with prose were new; and it serves as an introduction to Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, in which Beatrice figures prominently. The Divine Comedy is Dante's vision of the afterlife, broken into a trilogy of the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Dante is given a guided tour of hell and purgatory by Virgil, the pagan Roman poet whom Dante greatly admired and imitated, and of heaven by Beatrice. The Inferno shows the souls who have been condemned to eternal torment, and included here are not only mythical and historical evil-doers, but Dante's enemies. The Purgatory reveals how souls who are not irreversibly sinful learn to be good through a spiritual purification. And The Paradise depicts further development of the just as they approach God. The Divine Comedy has been influential from Dante's day into modern times. The poem has endured not just because of its beauty and significance, but also because of its richness and piety as well as its occasionally humorous and vulgar treatment of the afterlife. In addition to his writing, Dante was active in politics. In 1302, after two years as a priore, or governor of Florence, he was exiled because of his support for the white guelfi, a moderate political party of which he was a member. After extensive travels, he stayed in Ravenna in 1319, completing The Divine Comedy there, until his death in 1321.

Dante Alighieri (12651321) was born to a noble but impoverished family and achieved immortality with such works as "The Divine Comedy,"

Barbara Reynolds, retired lecturer in Italian at Cambridge University, holds three honorary doctorates. She translated Ariostos "Orlando Furioso" for Penguin Classics and finished Dorothy L. Sayerss translation of Dantes "Paradise" after Sayerss death.

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