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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
teenth, at least eighty. The first translation was into Spanish, in 1428. St. Rene Taillandier, in Revue des Deux Mondes, December 1, 1856. M. St. Rene Taillandier says that the Commedia was condemned by the inquisition in Spain; but this seems too general a statement, for, according to Foscolo, Dante, Vol. IV. p. 116. it was the commentary of Landino and Vellutello, and a few verses in the Inferno and Paradiso, which were condemned. The first French translation was that of Grangier, 1596, but the study of Dante struck no root there till the present century. Rivarol, who translated the Inferno in 1783, was the first Frenchman who divined the wonderful force and vitality of the Commedia. Ste. Beuve, Causeries du Lundi, Tome XI. p. 169. The expressions of Voltaire represent very well the average opinion of cultivated persons in respect of Dante in the middle of the eighteenth century. He says: The Italians call him divine; but it is a hidden divinity; few people understand
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Spenser (search)
yet if he more inquire, By certain signs, here set in sundry place, He may it find;.... And thou, O fairest princess under sky, In this fair mirror mayst behold thy face And thine own realms in land of Faery. Many of his personages we can still identify, and all of them were once as easily recognizable as those of Mademoiselle de Scudery. This, no doubt, added greatly to the immediate piquancy of the allusions. The interest they would excite may be inferred from the fact that King James, in 1596, wished to have the author prosecuted and punished for his indecent handling of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, under the name of Duessa. Had the poet lived longer, he might perhaps have verified his friend Raleigh's saying, that whosoever in writing modern history shall follow truth too near the heels, it may haply strike out his teeth. The passage is one of the very few disgusting ones in the Faery Queen. Spenser was copying Ariosto; but the Italian poet, with the discreeter taste of