I’m still getting on slowly with Proust, but in the meantime, I’ve ventured into new territory with Dante. And MOOCs – free online courses from institutions like Yale, Stanford and Harvard Universities! The main lectures/resources I’m using to read Dante are from an open course at Yale: ITAL310. But there’s also a fine compilation of readings at Saylor.com’s ENGL409 (though I find it odd that they classify this Italian classic as part of the English literary pantheon. Western, fine. European, fine. But English?). Haven’t started reading yet, as I’m still deciding between reading the eBook version at Gutenberg, or getting the Oxford Classics translation (pictured above) by Mark Musa… Decisions, decisions.
The Yale ITAL310 course is taught by Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta, and a side-by-side English/Italian edition is used. No need for knowledge of Italian language to get by though. All the lectures and readings are in English, hence the name of the course: ‘Dante in Translation‘. Mazzotta goes briefly through Vita Nuova as a preamble to the Divine Comedy before diving into the latter work. Here’s a Youtube playlist of the whole set of lectures; I’ve listened to the first two and they’re great. I can’t wait to start reading! If you’re anything like me, and you’ve put off reading Dante for years, take it in easy doses with Professor Mazzotta. He explains everything in a very straightforward and accessible way, I promise.
EDIT: I’ve gone from blogging every two/three months to once a month – hooray! If I keep this up, I’ll be updating every fortnight again, like I used to back in the day…
When it’s all said and done, I’ve failed my year of Proust. I’m now only halfway through Within a Budding Grove, the second volume. It’s taken me half the year to get through less than two volumes. Though it’s only the end of July, and there are still five good months left in the year, I have no intention of racing through the remainder of Remembrance of Things Past – nor do I think it’s humanly possible to truly appreciate this masterpiece while ‘racing through it’.
To be fair, I’ve been through a lot of tough personal circumstances this year regarding health, relationships, and career decisions. Reading has been slow as a result. I’ve noticed, sadly, that literature takes a back-seat when the going gets tough. It was one of those years where I felt as though I was watching sequence after sequence of a horror movie, helpless to do anything but watch as my own life fell apart. But I’m slowly picking up the pieces, and with that, my love of literature is slowly recovering itself as well.
At this rate, it’ll probably be more a decade of Proust than a year, but I don’t mind. Why? Because I enjoy delving into that idyllic, dreamy world of his to keep myself in check. Proust allows me to dream, and to hope, and to indulge in a little beauty when life seems grim. It has a pleasant hum that I like to get lost in every once in a while when things wear me down. And so I’ll keep plodding on, without time restrictions and silly deadlines that I try to set for myself.
But I don’t feel all that silly about it, seeing as it’s what got me started in the first place. If I hadn’t set that project earlier this year, I would have continually pushed it back to make way for other books, and I would never have discovered the wonder of À la recherche du temps perdu.