“Despite a glut of English translations (well over a hundred, by my count),” writes Dante scholar Robert Pogue Harrison, “New versions of the entire [Divine Comedy] poem or individual canticles continue to appear in rapid succession—six in the last decade alone.” Over at the New York Review of Books, he investigates three of the latest: Dan Brown’s Inferno, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno, and Clive James’s Divine Comedy.
The Toast may be closing its doors soon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still putting out hilarious pieces. This week, it’s Vape Aficionado’s Guide to Finding a Token Lady-Writer, featuring such gems as: “Margaret Atwood: Because she’s good at Twitter and you forgot how to spell ‘Le Guin,'” and “George Eliot: Whoops, you thought George was a dude, didn’t you? Purely accidental, but it still counts!”
Must female characters always stand in the shadow of the institution of marriage? Ivan Kreilkamp writes on female bachelors, from Renata Adler’s Speedboat to Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. Pair with this Millions essay on Adler’s piecemeal novel.
“Her exchanges with Americans in small towns and rural communities are inspiring an appreciation of poetry and history – and remind us that poetry has value for all of our lives.” The Library of Congress appointed Tracy K. Smith to a second term as the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2018-2019. For her second term, Smith edited an anthology called American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, which will be published by Graywolf Press in association with the Library of Congress. Pair with: our review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.