Romania Dantesque Encyclopedia

By | January 14, 2022

Assume, as has been done by some recent investigators of D.’s ‘fortune’ in Romania, that the doctors sent by the Republic of Venice to Stephen the Great have brought with them, among their books, also the Comedy, introducing it so the court of the prince, to whom we owe the first artistic and cultural flowering of a genuine Romanian imprint, is only a suggestive hypothesis. It is legitimate instead to think that a direct contact with the work of D., known in Poland since the century. XV, was established in the Polish Catholic schools of the Jesuits, attended during the centuries. XVII and XVIII, by future Romanian chroniclers, not to mention those who were able to train in Italian cultural environments, by Prince Costantino Cantacuzino, ‛scholar ‘of the Padua Studio (XVII century), to the young theologians from the Catholic schools of Blaj (the future promoters of the Transylvanian Latin movement), sent to the Roman colleges of the “De Propaganda Fide” congregation. It is in fact possible to detect in the work of some of them the presence of D., recognizable in the adoption of formal schemes (the Dante tercet introduced by Timoteo Cipariu [1805-1887] in his “Eclogue in praise of Bishop John of Lemene”: Eglog pentru întronarea episcopului Lemmi, Blaj 1832); or in intrinsic influences to inspiration, as in the “Vision of the ascetic Barlaam” (Vedenie ce au văzut un schimnic Varlaam…) written by Vasile Pogor in 1821, as in some episodes of the heroic-comic poem “La Zingareide” (Tiganiada), published posthumously in 1875 and in its most organic version only in 1925,

But we must still speak of indirect evidence. Ion Eliade Rădulescu remains the first to introduce D.’s name and work into the circle of Romanian culture and to give explicit and precise testimony to it. With the Rădulescu we are faced with an attitude that continues to this day. D.’s discovery corresponds to the awareness of his own mission and destiny not only as individuals, but as a nation: a nation that cannot renounce, without betraying itself, Latinity as the dominant component of its own history and civilization.

According to top-engineering-schools, in Moldavia, it was necessary to wait until 1865 for the name of D. to be authoritatively proposed to the admiration of the public. In that year the poet G. Asachi (1788-1866), who shares with Rădulescu, in addition to the vocation of educator of the masses, the love for Italian culture, assimilated directly in a long stay in Rome, gave news of the Dante celebrations around the world, deploring that out of five million Romanians not yet one had felt the duty to engage in a translation. Almost to open the way, Asachi – who had already composed the rhetorical celebratory verses of D. also in Italian – ventures into the version of fragment 1-66 of canto XXIII of the Inferno, in non-rhymed verses of 16 syllables. However, his appeal was accepted only in 1882 by a writer of Moldovan origin, Nicolae Gane. But in the same celebratory year (1865) A. Densusianu – in addition to evoking, in the footsteps of the Life of D. del Boccaccio, the figure of Alighieri – published the translation of three cantos (If III, Pg XXVIII, Pd XXIII), in verses of 13 and 14 syllables, grouped in triplets and quatrains with alternating rhyme. Unhappy attempt, which was resumed – always limited to isolated songs or fragments – in 1877, with the translations of I. Drăgescu (If III, in verses of 12 and 13 rhyming syllables 1-3, in the “Familia” magazine in Budapest); and in 1881, with the prose translation, edited by GS Grădisteanu, of the first five cantos of Hell published in Sibiu’s “Observatorul”). Between these two dates is inserted the work of Maria Chitu, who deserves the merit of the first integral version of the first two canticles. Between 1893 and 1894 the translation of the first twelve cantos of Hell was published on c. by G. Boteanu: the prose is less academic, but not animated by the slightest breath of poetry.

In the first half of the century. XX the fortune of D. is linked, on a nobly popular level, to the work of N. Gane, of A. Marcu, of I. Tundrea (of the latter the third rhyme translation of Hell was published in 1945, while the printing of the other two canticles was announced in the “Library for all”). On the artistic level, the most valued contribution is represented by the now classic translation by G. Coşbuc: alongside it, forty years after the first edition of Coşbuc’s work, the complete translation has come to be placed, and also from the point with a very faithful metric point of view, by an eminent Italianist: Eta Boeriu (Divina Comedie, Bucharest 1965). The translator combines the clever intelligence of the text with an authentic artistic sensitivity.

Dante’s criticism deserves a place in itself, which in the last decade has seen a notable flowering of serious and authoritative studies (Vianu, Façon, Duƫu, Pârvulescu, etc.). The Italianist A. Balaci deserves particular mention, especially as a passionate promoter of the return of D. – interpreted in a political-social key – in the circle of Romanian culture.

While we await the printing of D.’s minor works, which have been fully translated in recent years, we would like Romanian critics to examine the works inspired by and dedicated to Dante. We limit ourselves to pointing out the drama “The death of D.” (Moartea lui Dante), published posthumously in 1939: the author, Alexandru Macedonski (1854-1920), wanted to revive in it his own drama, of the misunderstood visionary and rebel, whose only refuge is the dream.

Romania Dantesque Encyclopedia