Middlesex County College Professor Writes Translation of Dante’s “The New Life”

Emanuel di Pasquale

Emanuel di Pasquale

EDISON — Emanuel di Pasquale, professor and poet-in-residence at Middlesex County College, has translated Dante’s classic work “The New Life.” The translation, co-authored by Bruno Alemanni, a retired writer and editor, was published in July. “The New Life,” written in the 13th century, was Dante’s first book. He complied love poems he had written for a young woman named Beatrice, and introduced them with prose and described the circumstances of their creation.

“The book is about the mystery of love,” di Pasquale said. “Human love, which is a sign of the divinity in the human. What makes us divine, in other words, is our ability to love each other – love in all its forms: Love of children, love of family, love of father and mother, brother and sister; love of all humanity eventually.”

The translation is aimed at American readers, but does not sacrifice Dante’s literary style.

The poet Joseph Kennedy calls this work “a fresh new version.”
“As I dipped into their slim volume I found myself unexpectedly hooked,” he said. “The text is full of self-contained poems, sonnets rendered into distinguished modern verse. And what’s intriguing: Dante gives us detailed accounts of how he wrote them. I don’t know another book that takes us into a poet’s workshop like this. (‘The New Life’) is an impressive prelude to ‘The Divine Comedy,’ essential reading for a fuller knowledge of Dante, and actually a pleasure all the way through.”

Di Pasquale’s colleague, Daniel Zimmerman, professor of English at Middlesex, also says this work breaks new ground.

“In his new translation of La Vita, Emanuel di Pasquale has captured the commonplace, matter-of-fact spirit with which Dante engages the materials that love and language provide him,” Zimmerman said.

Di Pasquale was born in Ragusa, Sicily, but has lived in the United States since 1957. He has several other translations of Italian authors published and 16 books of his own poetry, the most recent being “Siciliana” (2009) and “Harvest” (2011). He has also written a children’s book, “Cartwheel to the Moon” (2003).

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