Charles Eliot Norton.
Charles Eliot Norton was a big fan of Dante’s. He translated his greatest work, the Divine Comedy in the 19th century, as well as this smaller work of the famous Italian poet. He was also on the first committee that awarded the Dante Prize.
The Vita Nuova, or New Life, by Dante was a work of Norton’s done in his younger years and re-published in this edition many years later. It is pretty interesting, as it is devoted to his love for Beatrice.
The Essays and Notes that follow the translation of the work by Norton are often useful and readable as well, especially since they include a few translations by other early Italian poets that illustrate pre-Renaissance Italian literature nicely.
The personal glimpse of the inner Dante, in his own words, that this work offers is the best to be found of this man.
Norton’s translation is far more tolerable than most of the English versions of Dante’s poetry, and this book almost tempts me to give his translation of the Divine Comedy a try. Almost, I say.
Here is the most detailed account of the great love affair Dante and Beatrice by the man himself. This in itself is fascinating since like Petrarch and Laura, and Abelard and Heloise, these two are considered as examples of famous lovers. The details of the romance, told here, are quite different from the usual expectations aroused by such fame.
As one of the main elements of Dante’s life, it is curious that no one mentions this work’s value as the best source of information on Dante’s love in connection with any biographical notes. It is even stranger that this work was only translated into English one time before 1900.
Some of the poems are quite charming, the whole account of Beatrice is fascinating. Begin HERE.