New Library acquisition: George Santayana Autograph Letter

Author: Tracy Bergstrom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired the following item: 

George Santayana.  Autograph Letter, signed G Santayana, to George Rauh on the topic of Lawrence Grant White’s translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Dated January 31, 1950.

This letter, written by the Spanish-American philosopher, essayist, and literary critic George Santayana, responds to a friend’s “splendid gift” of Laurence Grant White’s English verse translation of the Divine Comedy.  He remarks of White’s translation:

The translation is faithful and often literal.  But it does not produce this ritual effect proper to the original, and of course gives no idea of the sweetness and limpidity of the Italian.

And of the Gustave Doré illustrations printed with the translation:

they add vastness to the perfectly definite dimensions of Dante’s landscapes; but they are not in the spirit of the original…

A copy of the White/ Doré edition may be consulted in conjunction with this item at the following call number: Hesburgh Library General Collection PQ 4315 .W584 1948.