The temple classics "Inferno", which, as we all know, is the version TSE was
most inclined towards, gives the line in "Inferno" as "I did not die and did
not remain alive". Ciardi gives the line as "I did not die and yet I had
lost life's breath". Pinsky writes, "I neither died, nor kept alive".
Sayers translates, "This was not life, and yet it was not death". The above
are all verse translations. Norton's prose translation gives the line as.
"I did not die and did not remain alive".
First off as I think is obvious there are subtle difference between all the
translations and Saha's claim to have an "exact equivalent" cannot therefore
just be accepted. I have no Italian myself and must rely upon multiple
translations for a average sense.
Saha also lifts the line out of the context of the riddle which it prefaces.
That is, if Dante is not dead but is not breathing then what is he? The
Temple classics gives the entire tercet as "I did not die, and did not
remain alive:now/ think for thyself, if thou hast any grain of/ ingenuity,
what I became, deprived of both / death and life. By taking the line out of
context Saha gives the line an emphasis that the entire tercet does not
Further, Eliot's objection to Canto 34 did not concern this riddle. It
concerned the representation of Satan himself. During the trip through the
very bottom of hell there are huge perspective changes as Dante (Poet)
finishes this canticle and readies the reader for the next. Dante's
(Pilgrim) view of Satan shifts from an upright to an upside down Satan for
example. Eliot and many other thoughtful readers of "Inferno" thought that
Dante (Poet) had not really succeeded in his description.
Given the above I find Saha's essay confusing and his conclusions forced,
furthermore, as Nancy points out, Saha carries his conclusion into his
McIntosh, NM, USA
From: Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Friday, July 06, 2001 4:59 AM
Subject: Re: Dante in the hyacinth garden
>Steve Pollock wrote:
>> This would not be inconsistent with, say, a person who, for religious
>> reasons, thought homosexuality was wrong, while at the same time was
>> in love with a member of the same sex.
>While in some ways it is odd that the "I was neither / Living nor dead" as
>an echo of Dante has not been better picked up on, in other ways combining
>Satan and the hyacinth girl is a strange mix. But not as strange if the
>hyacinth girl were really male (those are pearls that were his eyes.)
> Rick Parker