I had been slogging through Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, and made it to the last half of War and Remembrance. It’s good (The Caine Mutiny is better), but it’s too long. I’ve put it aside for now in favor of Anthony Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Paradise. The introduction is excellent; the original is on the facing pages; the footnotes are helpfully arranged with some on the page and some in the back; there are five appendices, and Dore’s illustrations. The translation I’m familiar with is Allen Mandelbaum’s. I’m no critic, but maybe Esolen’s verse is more accessible, and Mandelbaum’s more poetic.
Mandelbaum:The glory of the One who moves all things permeates the universe and glows in one part more and in another less. I was within the heaven that receives more of His light; and I saw things that he who from that height descends, forgets or can not speak; for nearing its desired end, our intellect sinks into an abyss so deep that memory fails to follow it. Nevertheless, as much as I, within my mind, could treasure of the holy kingdom shall now become the matter of my song.
Esolen:The glory of the One who moves all things penetrates the universe with light, more radiant in one part and elsewhere less: I have been in that heaven He makes most bright, and seen things neither mind can hold nor tongue utter, when one descends from such great height, For as we near the One for whom we long, our intellects so plunge into the deep, memory cannot follow where we go. Nevertheless what small part I can keep of that holy kingdom treasured in my heart will now become the matter of my song.
Otherwise, while I’m in the car there’s The Adventures of Gerard, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The audiobook is from Librivox. It’s light stuff, but beats both NPR and contemporary music. On the nightstand is Mean Dads for a Better America, by Tom Shillue. These are funny stories about growing up in Boston in the 70s, and they are pretty funny.
UPDATE 10 July 2017: Jerusalem Delivered