Crossing The Styx: Translating The Inferno
Wednesday 8 December 6pm
Crossing The Styx: Translating The Inferno by Sean O’Brien
A Lit & Phil Live Event
Twenty years ago Sean O’Brien began work on a verse translation of Dante’s Inferno, a poem written, as Seamus Heaney put it, ‘on official paper’. The result was published in 2006. He looks back and considers a number of questions. Why did he do it? There were already many versions and more continue to appear. What choices did the task entail, for instance about poetic form and speak ability? Where do the translator’s obligations lie? O’Brien also seeks to honour his late friend the magisterial poet-translator Alistair Elliot, who read and commented on the work in progress, proving a truly Virgilian guide to the underworld.
Sean O’Brien’s verse translation of Dante’s Inferno was published in 2006. He has published ten collections of poetry, most recently It Says Here (Picador, 2020). His work has received numerous awards, including the T.S. Eliot prize, the Forward Prize (three times), the E.M. Forster Award and the European Lyric Album Prize. His other translations include Aristophanes’ Birds (Royal National Theatre), the poems of Corsino Fortes and in 2020 the complete poems of Abai Kunanbayuli, the Kazakh national poet. Sean O’Brien retired from Newcastle University in autumn 2021 and is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His edition of This is the Life, the Selected Poems of Alistair Elliot, was published by Shoestring Press this year.
The Dante exhibition opens on the 2nd December and will be displayed within the main library until 23rd December.
Our thanks to Helena Biosciences for their overall sponsorship of the celebration and to The British Italian Society for their grant support.
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