The Vita Nuova
, with its unusual blend of prose and poetry, is universally recognized as Dante’s early masterpiece and provides an indispensable prequel to The Divine Comedy
Set in thirteenth-century Florence, part autobiography and part religious allegory, it traces Dante’s quest to find a poetic idiom worthy of Beatrice whom he had loved since boyhood. Her premature death plunges him into an emotional turmoil that finds release only through his faith in her continuing spiritual influence and through his determination “to write of her what has never been written of any woman”. The Vita Nuova
remains a central document in European culture’s examination of love and the self.
It is exactly one hundred and fifty years since Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s groundbreaking version of the Vita Nuova
. Now Anthony Mortimer, already acclaimed as translator of Cavalcanti, Petrarch and Michelangelo, produces a verse translation that avoids Rossetti’s disturbing archaisms but preserves a lyric immediacy worthy of the original. This is a Vita Nuova
for the twenty-first century.
Read an excerpt from Vita Nuova
By the same author: