The Inferno

The Inferno

Book - 2002
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An extraordinary new verse translation of Dante's masterpiece, by poet, scholar, and lauded translator Anthony Esolen Of the great poets, Dante is one of the most elusive and therefore one of the most difficult to adequately render into English verse. In theInferno, Dante not only judges sin but strives to understand it so that the reader can as well. With this major new translation, Anthony Esolen has succeeded brilliantly in marrying sense with sound, poetry with meaning, capturing both the poem's line-by-line vigor and its allegorically and philosophically exacting structure, yielding anInfernothat will be as popular with general readers as with teachers and students. For, as Dante insists, without a trace of sentimentality or intellectual compromise, even Hell is a work of divine art. Esolen also provides a critical Introduction and endnotes, plus appendices containing Dante's most important sources--from Virgil to Saint Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic theologians--that deftly illuminate the religious universe the poet inhabited.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 2002.
Edition: Modern library pbk. edition
ISBN: 9780679642619
0679642617
9780812970067
0812970063
Branch Call Number: 851.1 DANTE AL
Characteristics: xxv, 490 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.

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m
MS_Varnado
Nov 10, 2017

Mary Jo Bang's translation of the Inferno is an interesting one. Adopting a self-consciously postmodern tack, Bang attempts to bring the Inferno to a greater relevance for contemporary readers by sprinkling the verse with references to modernity, which in all fairness is precisely what the original did for its Italian audience with references to then-recent Florentine politics and scandals. Now, Bang's updated text can sometimes run the gamut from jarring (referencing South Park in Dante seems an odd choice) to ingenious (this version of Dante references Eliot's Waste Land, which in turn referenced Dante). Overall the occasional anachronism is annoying but outweighed, in my opinion, by the sense that some aspect of the poem has been recovered from the temporal void.

r
rpavlacic
Feb 15, 2017

Should be on everyone's bucket list of books to read before he or she dies. The Michael Palma translation I read is excellent - it follows Dante's iambic pentameter as well as the rhyming scheme: ABA, BCB, CDC, etc. Frightening to discover where famous people lie within the nine circles of hell, including Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great - and, perhaps the most surprising, the Prophet Mohammed. This one is not for pre-teens, though - there are a few places where curse words are used (perhaps because no other word could describe a concept in the original Italian) - and besides, the scenes are just too scary for kids anyway.

n
Nymeria23
Jan 13, 2017

I read the edition with translations from Dorothy Sayers and I loved the commentary with this book- the notes on specific lines and images really helped my understanding of this classic and the intricacies of Dante's poetic style. It's a really interesting, and as my professor states it, 'logical' organization of the classical ideas of sin and it's deserving punishment, with each deeper level and darker pit conveying the punishments of the marginally worse sinners, until Dante reaches Satan. It's an intriguing concept, apparently not as original an idea as I had previously thought for the time period, with Dante being guided through Hell because he has lost his way, but still a very cool class read. Not sure I would personally call it a comedy, though
*the introduction of Greek mythological figures and beasts was interesting given that they come from a pagan religion. I wonder what there purpose was- to get the audience's attention? Add dramatic flare?

p
praitty
Aug 30, 2016

Fantastic work by Dante!

m
monicacole
Jul 01, 2014

While this was a book I read for a school assignment, I did come to like it. It, while difficult at time to understand, was far more readable than other texts from that period that I have read. The story is fascinating when taken from a psychological and sociological perspective, and I found myself often wanting to know more about Dante the author. Did he really believe in this version of Hell that he presented, and the religious construct it implicated or was it all fabricated?

l
Leanos_e
May 08, 2014

Before I start talking about the book proper, I have a confession to make: I wasn't sure I really wanted to read philosophical poetry written seven centuries ago. I had doubts about style, quality of translation and my own lack of literary background in decyphering the numerous Christian and mythological references, not to mention political and cultural trivia from Dante's Florence. Thanks to my Goodreads friends, I took the plunge and I can report back that it was well worth the effort. Even better, it wasn't an effort, but a joyride, thanks primarily to my lucky pick of the Ciardi translation for my first foray into the phantastical world of Dante. So my answer to the questions: can we still read Dante for pleasure and not for academic study is a resounding yes. Another big Yes is the answer to the relevance of the Commedia for the modern reader. The fundamental soul searching questions about the relationship between spiritual and material life, morality and political power, religious and secular governance, reason and faith remain unchanged over centuries and must still be answered by each of us after our own fashion. Dante is as great choice as the lightbearer showing the way to redemption, as Virgil was to the poet on his descent into Hell.

m
mariafrie
Aug 20, 2009

I like this version because it has refences in it and makes it easier to read! Very religous.

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rpavlacic
Feb 15, 2017

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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