Persuasive spaces: Translators' prefaces to the Divine Comedy

Document Type


Publication Date



This essay posits translators' prefaces as democratic spaces of individuality. Among the usually limited opportunities for translators to present their work and discuss its nuances, challenges, methods, and solutions, a translator's preface affords the rare luxury of displaying one's array of tools and, by establishing one's credentials, convincing readers of the legitimacy of specific translatorial choices. However, the possibilities and expectations of a translator's preface are strongly influenced by factors that hinder the translator's freedom of expression and are, to some extent, enslaved to a strictly persuasive function. These pre-packaged topics seem to weigh even more on the translators of so-called 'classic' texts, who, on top of other real or perceived duties, need to pay homage to past translations and justify the need for an additional one. A close examination of various translators' prefaces to Dante's Divine Comedy will highlight recurring themes and persuasive strategies along with deviations from the norm that might suggest alternative avenues towards a more illuminating way of inhabiting this unique locus. By unveiling the points of contact between the space of the source text and the space of the translator's individuality, the former is infused with renewed life and the latter with new meaning.

Publication Name

Forum Italicum

Volume Number


First Page


Last Page


Issue Number




This document is currently not available here.