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Jerusalem Delivered (Gerusalemme liberata) [Paperback]

Torquato Tasso , Anthony M. Esolen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 10 2000 0801863236 978-0801863233

Late in the eleventh century the First Crusade culminated in the conquest of Jerusalem by Christian armies. Five centuries later, when Torquato Tasso began to search for a subject worthy of an epic, Jerusalem was governed by a sultan, Europe was in the crisis of religious division, and the Crusades were a nostalgic memory. Tasso turned to the First Crusade both as a subject that would test his poetic ambition and as a reflection on the quandaries of his own time. He sought to create a masterpiece that would deserve comparison with the great epics of the past.

Gerusalemme liberata became one of the most widely read and cherished books of the Renaissance. First published in 1581, it was translated into English by Edward Fairfax in 1600. That translation has been the standard, even though Fairfax was only a good, not a great, poet. Fairfax tried to fit Tasso's verse into Spenserian stanzas, adding to and subtracting from the original and often changing Tasso's meaning.

Anthony Esolen's new translation captures the delight of Tasso's descriptions, the different voices of its cast of characters, the shadings between glory and tragedy -- and it does all this in an English as powerful and clear as Tasso's Italian. Tasso's masterpiece finally emerges as an English masterpiece.

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From Library Journal

Published in 1581, Tasso's (1544-95) verse epic on the 11th-century First Crusade and the love of Tancred and Clorinda is one the masterpieces of Italian literature. Esolen (English, Providence Coll.), a translator of Lucretius's On the Nature of Things, here provides a solid verse translation. Despite its importance, Jerusalem Delivered has enjoyed only one significant rendition in English that is still in print: Edward Fairfax's 1600 Spenserian version. Esolen observes the basic shape, rhythm, and rhetorical movement of the original ottava rima but never sacrifices poetry or meaning to rigid form. The result is both highly readable and truer to the spirit of Tasso than Fairfax's rendition. Esolen also provides a valuable introduction, an essay on Tasso's allegory, a glossary of characters, and helpful textual notes to identify allusions. An important contribution; recommended for public and academic libraries.DT.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


What a tale it is!... [Esolen's] notes are full of fascinating and comment and helpful information... These notes, a thoughtful introduction, and above all a winning translation that captures the charms of Tasso's verse should give Tasso the wide audience in the English-speaking world that he has so far never had, but richly deserves. -- Bernard Knox New York Review of Books This is the best way to read [Tasso] at the moment. Do it. -- Colin Burrow London Review of Books Now English readers have available to them Anthony Esolen's readable and accurate verse translation of Jerusalem Delivered. Esolen copes admirably with Tasso's octave stanza... It is not only beauty that Jerusalem Delivered still holds for us. In our time, when the future of the Holy City is contested once again, and sectarian conflicts are on the rise, and a Tridentine spirit, a fear of internal dissent, has returned to the Roman church, Tasso's magniloquent epic still has something to say. -- David Quint New Republic A solid verse translation... Esolen observes the basic shape, rhythm, and rhetorical movement of the original ottava rima but never sacrifices poetry or meaning to rigid form. The result is both highly readable and truer to the spirit of Tasso than [Edward] Fairfax's rendition... An important contribution. Library Journal [A] much-needed new translation... No one will fail to admire the careful enormity of the undertaking. Publishers Weekly This new translation of Gerusalemme liberata is a very fine, highly readable version of Tasso's epic about the First Crusade. The Gerusalemme is an acknowledged masterpiece of world literature and a culmination of Italian Renaissance poetry. It is good to have a modern, affordable edition of Tasso in print again, in a fast-flowing English verse that is infinitely more accessible to the ordinary reader than the Elizabethan rendition of Edward Fairfax... Tasso's work is charged with the fiery passion of youth. Esolen's translation captures this fire... A very useful feature of Esolen's edition, besides the notes and index, is a 'Cast of Characters' at the end, where each personage is identified, with words and actions noted for each canto. -- Anne Barbeau Gardiner New Oxford Review Until now, the rollicking story of the heroes, villains, witches and lovers was available in only one modern English translation. Anthony M. Esolen has corrected this shortage in masterful style and his translation restores not only the epic grandeur of the original but also its excitement. -- Daniel Boice Catholic Library World [Esolen] executes verse with art that it rarely intrudes upon the reader's consciousness, and then only to invoke admiration at the accomplishment of both the poet-scholars involved in telling the tale... This edition is eminently satisfying. Because Esolen takes such care to make the text accessible, he offers an excellent introduction to Tasso for new generations of readers, and he succeeds in awakening an interest in the original Italian, as well as in all of Tasso's works, with this translation. -- Karen L. Nelson Sixteenth Century Journal We are fortunate to have Anthony Esolen's new verse Englishing of Torquato Tasso's masterpiece... Thanks to Esolen we now have an English Tasso worthy of use in our classrooms without the sort of fussy apologies that can undermine the experience we are trying to provide our students. In translating the Liberata Esolen has undertaken a daunting challenge and met it handsomely. -- Lawrence F. Rhu Spenser Review Jerusalem Delivered offers a thorough introduction tackling T.'s relationship to Ariosto, his struggle with the problems of truth, authority, and religion, and notes on the characters. Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 2003

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First Sentence
I sing the reverent armies, and that Chief who set the great tomb of our Savior free; much he performed with might and judgment, much he suffered in the glorious victory; in vain hell rose athwart his path, in vain two continents combined in mutiny. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jerusalem Delivered: Gerusalemme Liberata May 25 2004
Tasso is arguably Italy's most important 16th-century poet. His Gerusalemme liberata is both his major work and the last great epic of the Italian Renaissance tradition, with foreshadowings of the emerging baroque style. Esolen is close to the mark in calling his subject "a kind of Caravaggio of poetry," for Tasso's verse embodies a chiaroscuro of both content and style. A retelling of the first Crusade--presenting battle, duels, and heroes in the classical mold and capturing doomed love affairs in sensual, melodic poetry--this is a rousing story, and Esolen does an exceptional job of capturing the rhythm and tensions of the original in a superb translation. Unlike Ralph Nash (prose translation, CH, Mar'88), Esolen provides fluid modern verse that maintains the end couplets of the ottava rima (which is nearly impossible to render into English) and many end rhymes too, making this a lyric feast as well as an accurate translation. The brief introduction provides considerable information about Tasso's life and times and a fine overview of the epic itself. The notes are equally informative, providing historical data as well as literary, particularly classical, references. A good bibliographic essay, a lengthy "Cast of Characters," and the solid scholarly apparatus includes a discussion of the epic's allegory
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well... Aug. 1 2003
By GeoX
It is what it is. I suppose the fact that I wish it was something different is hardly Tasso's fault; nonetheless, I have mixed emotions regarding this poem.
First of all, let's be honest here: Jerusalem Delivered has a worldview which just about everyone reading today is going to find totally repulsive: Christians--good; Pagans--bad. Utterly and absolutely. True, Tasso's pagans (ie, Muslims) are occasionally praised, and his Christians sometimes stray, but really, let's not fool ourselves: this doesn't really amount to anything. Although Tasso's life was endlessly conflicted, here he is trying his hardest to write from a good, Christian viewpoint. I wasn't expecting the civilized urbanity of Ariosto or anything, but this is really a bit much. The climax of the poem, with Christians unapologetically slaughtering, pillaging, and raping (no, seriously--check book XIX, verse XXX)--all without a hint of disapprobation from Tasso--is pretty stomache-turning. You could *try* to argue that the scene is meant as some sort of subtle criticism in itself, but I really don't think you'll find any textual evidence for this. Contrast this with the sacking of Biserta in Orlando Furioso--surely that poem's darkest moment--and the difference becomes obvious. I realize that some people will dismiss my criticisms as nothing more than political correctness run amuck, and, ..., maybe it is, but I make no apologies. As a fairly serious reader, I'm accustomed to simply accepting things in literature that run totally counter to my own ideology, but being, alas, a mere human, there IS a limit. I want to stress that this only became irksome to me towards the poem's end, but it definitely affected my opinion of the work as a whole.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great poem, weak presentation March 11 2004
Let's be clear on what I am reviewing...I am reviewing Jerusalem Delivered as published in hardcover by IndyPublish. This poem is also available in paperback as published by John Hopkins Univer. Press, and it is that version of the poem that first captured my attention. The John Hopkins paperback is a translation by A.M. Esolen and, in my humble opinion, it is magnificent in almost every way -- good introductory material on the original poet (Tasso) and the poem itself, great translation, good endnotes, nice packaging. The only draw back to the John Hopkins-published book is that it is a paperback, and after reading the poem I had to have a hardcover for my budding library. After months of searching I stumbled across the subject of this review...the IndyPublish hardcover version of Jerusalem Delivered. Where to start...? Firstly, the translation is (I think) that of Edward Fairfax, written in the late 1700s (perhaps...?). I prefer Esolen's, but the Fairfax is good. I get the feeling reading the Fairfax that the translator often tried too hard to force the rhymes, often employing punctuation to emphasize the rhymes and creating a very sing-song and, at times, tiring la-te-la-te-la-te-doe-doe. But, it is for the most part still a good read if you can break the sing-song cycle.
Unfortunately, the IndyPublish hardback comes with absolutely no notes, introductory or otherwise. The cast of characters in the poem is very large, the scenes and settings shift, the action ebbs and flows, ...I believe that in order to appreciate the Fairfax as presented by IndyPublish you must have prior and intimate knowledge of the poem (cast, scenes, settings, history, etc) prior to reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent achievement July 27 2002
The original must be an astonishing work! Fierce battles, passionate romance, stirring orations, even scenes of cosmic splendor succeed one another; there's the sense of real genius here, of an artist who is fulfilling his intention. This translation reads very, very well indeed. A remarkably satisfying book.
C. S. Lewis relished this epic poem -- see his essay "Tasso" in his book of essays on medieval and Renaissance literature. I wonder if Tolkien also had read it, as a number of scenes reminded me of the Siege of Minas Tirith, etc. For those who want to move on from the authors and works that everyone knows influenced and/or impressed Lewis (and Tolkien?) such as Chesterton, George MacDonald, et al., Tasso may be recommended. I wonder if Lewis didn't get the idea for the severed head, of the criminal Alcasan, who seems to speak, but is really manipulated by a devil, and which the heroine of That Hideous Strength sees in a dream, from Tasso, where a Fury from hell makes a severed head talk (deceivingly) in a dream to one of the Christian warriors. The gruesome descriptions are similar, and Lewis even calls Alcasan "the Saracen"; and Alcasan certainly could be the name of one of the Saracen knights in Tasso. Who knows...?
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Torquato Tasso's masterpiece
This translation is wonderful. It's clear and understandable using more modern English, understandable yet regal. Read more
Published on Dec 21 2011 by Crusades Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Translation of a True Literary Masterpiece
Most every reader of literature in English is familiar with Arthurian romance and legend, from Malory's medieval masterpiece "Mort d'Arthur" to Tennyson's "Idylls of... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Read
I am just about to finish this translation of Tasso's venerable crusade and I just had to express how wonderful I think it is. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by Kim
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic sex and violence
A terrific poem! Just read: --
A felon in his wrath, Argante rides
trampling the fighter's breast like a bare street,
shouting, "Let every one who loves his... Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre translation and mediocre poetry
Tasso's wonderful story of adventure and romance is rendered poorly by translator Esolen. While everyone realizes that prose translation is a difficult task, when the literature is... Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2001 by Steven A Hilton
5.0 out of 5 stars War and love in the First Crusade
This magical epic poem tells the story of the First Crusade, led by Godfrey of Bouillon and other European noblemen and warriors. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2001 by Guillermo Maynez
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply a pleasure to read. . . .
Mr. Esolen has done the english-bound reader a fine service: we are drowning in Dantes, up to our eyeballs in Homers and Virgils and Ovids, but where are the compulsively readable... Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Beautiful
Anthony Esolen does it again to bring us a powerfully translated and edited poem, originally in Latin, now for the modern reader. Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2000 by Neil Scott Mcnutt
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