Reviews for I’ll Tell What I Saw
Michael Mazur was a painter and printmaker whose life was entwined with the literary world.
His paintings graced the covers of poetry books by his wife, Gail Mazur, and he contributed works to Agni and Ploughshares literary journals.
Mazur, who lived in Cambridge and Provincetown, collaborated on a number of Dante projects with poet and translator Robert Pinsky, starting with Inferno.
Before Mazur died this summer at the age of 73, he had created a fourth series of images inspired by Dante, this one for I’ll Tell What I Saw: Select Translations and Illustrations from ‘The Divine Comedy’ published this month by Sarabande.
In the introduction, Pinsky pays tribute to his collaborator: “Entering Dante’s creation entirely, not standing outside it, nor in a modern world apart from it, enables Mazur to imagine the poetry’s images with a tremendous, radical freshness, stemming from a lifelong passion.’’
Mazur’s fascination with the works of Dante Alighieri dated back to his college days when he lived in Dante’s native city of Florence and read The Divine Comedy in Italian. He considered illustrating Dante’s Inferno for his senior thesis at Amherst College, but his adviser thought the project too ambitious.
"This thin, handsome collection, featuring Michael Mazur’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, alongside Robert Pinsky’s translated passages on facing pages, promises to appeal to various readerships. Those unfamiliar with Dante can gain a terrific first impression of his medieval epic poem and its treatment of the afterlife from these selections (no lengthy text or intimidating notes in sight). On the other hand, longtime lovers of the Commedia will find here cherished lines brought to new life in Pinsky’s renderings, but most refreshing will be the “embedded” perspectives of Mazur’s illustrations. We never see the character Dante or his guide Virgil themselves, as if pilgrims posing on a stage, but experience Mazur’s alluring visions of their supernatural settings, as if looking over the characters’ shoulders, or through their own eyes." To read the full review, click here.