WFU verse translator receives gold medal from Italian city

Allen Mandelbaum, the W.R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities at Wake Forest University, was awarded the Gold Medal of the city of Florence, Italy, at a celebration honoring the 735th anniversary of Dante’s birth.

The medal was given to Mandelbaum for his translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” This is the only time that Florence has so honored a translator of Dante.

At the June 3 ceremony, Mandelbaum’s acceptance address in the Palazzo Vecchio was titled, “The Double Dance of a Translator: Crossing Language Borders.” The celebration included a formal procession through the city streets of representatives from Florence (where Dante was born) and Ravenna (where Dante died).

Mandelbaum received the National Book Award for his verse translation of Virgil’s “Aeneid” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. A recipient of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, and of honorary degrees from Purdue, the University of Cassino and the University of Turin, Mandelbaum has also won numerous other international awards. He won Italy’s Presidenza del Consiglio’s Award for verse translation in 1997.

Bantam Books, the principal paperback publisher of Mandelbaum’s verse translations, has also just published his anthology, “Three Centuries of American Poetry,” which Mandelbaum co-edited with Robert D. Richardson of Hillsborough, N.C. Mandelbaum’s translation of the “Metamophoses of Ovid” is published by Harcourt, Brace.

Mandelbaum’s principal hardcover publisher is the University of California Press, which recently published the first volume, “Inferno,” of the three-volume “California Lectura Dantis,” co-edited by Mandelbaum. The University of California Press is preparing a new hardcover edition of his translation of the “Aeneid,” a paperback edition of his translation of the “Odyssey,” a new edition of “Chelmaxioms,” new editions of his translations of Ungaretti and Quasimodo, and a volume of Mandelbaum’s own poetry.

Categories: Faculty, University Announcement