Dante and The Divine Comedy in Translation

A Listmania! list by Kirk Petersen (Eldorado Spgs, Colo.)
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The list author says: "All translators are liars. If you want to truly experience the Divine Comedy, you need to learn Italian, preferably fourteenth-century Italian. But barring that, we are stuck with translations. And God only knows how many translations have been done of the Divine Comedy! I have never even seen a guess. There must be dozens--at the very least. And yet, I have never seen a translation that seemed definitive to me: prose is too flat and terza rima results in distorted text. Below is a quick guide to the more famous and the more recent translations. Also, if youíre not already familiar with Dante, notes are essential. (Some of the information on this list was drawn from Barbara Reynoldís article in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation.)"
Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Complete
1.  Divine Comedy, Cary's Translation, Complete by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Henry Francis Cary (1814)  Blank verse.  Not actually the first, but one of the more famous.  Very influential in Britain.  Cary is memorialized in Westminster Abbey as 'The Translator of Dante'."
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The Divine Comedy Of Dante
2.  The Divine Comedy Of Dante by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1867)  Blank terzine.  Famous American poet.  Easily found on the web at several different sites.  Also seems to be the translation of choice for American publishers looking for copyright-free works."
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The Inferno of Dante Alighieri (The Temple classics)
3.  The Inferno of Dante Alighieri (The Temple classics) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Temple Classics (1849)  Rhythmic prose.  Three different translators.   Quite famous in its era."
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Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell)
4.  Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Charles Eliot Norton (1891)  Prose.  A Harvard professor.  Seems to have been the standard for many years in the United States."
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The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri
5.  The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Melville B. Anderson (1921)  Terza rima.  American."
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Inferno: The Divine Comedy, Volume 1 (Galaxy Books)
6.  Inferno: The Divine Comedy, Volume 1 (Galaxy Books) by John D. Sinclair
The list author says:
  "John D. Sinclair (1939)  Prose.  Superb commentary.  I bought mine just for Sinclairís insight."
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The Divine Comedy: Text With Translation in the Metre of the Original by Geoffrey L. Bickersteth
7.  The Divine Comedy: Text With Translation in the Metre of the Original by Geoffrey L. Bickersteth by Geoffrey Bickersteth
The list author says:
  "Geoffrey L. Bickersteth (1932)  Terza rima."
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The Divine Comedy, Part 1: Hell (Penguin Classics)
8.  The Divine Comedy, Part 1: Hell (Penguin Classics) by Dorothy L. Sayers
The list author says:
  "Dorothy Sayers (1949)  Terza rima.  British writer best known for her detective novels.  Last volume completed by Barbara Reynolds.  Very famous translation.   The language sounds Biblical to me, but perhaps it should."
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The Inferno (Signet Classics)
9.  The Inferno (Signet Classics) by John Ciardi
The list author says:
  "John Ciardi (1954)  Defective terza rima (middle of each tercet unrhymed).   CHARdee.  American poet, worked for PBS for a while.  Perhaps the most popular translation in the United States in recent history."
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The Divine Comedy, I. Inferno. Part 1
10.  The Divine Comedy, I. Inferno. Part 1 by Charles Singleton
The list author says:
  "Charles Singleton (1970)  Prose.  Professor at Johns Hopkins.  Very scholarly, highly respected for its notes."
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The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics)
11.  The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) by Mark Musa
The list author says:
  "Mark Musa (1971)  Blank terzine.  Professor at Indiana University.   Good notes.   Along with Mandelbaumís, the most used translation in American colleges and high schools.  Probably the most accessible version for the general reader."
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Divine Comedy (Oxford World's Classics)
12.  Divine Comedy (Oxford World's Classics) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "C.H. Sisson (1980) Generally blank verse."
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The Divine Comedy: Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso (Everyman's Library)
13.  The Divine Comedy: Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso (Everyman's Library) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Allen Mandelbaum (1980)  Blank terzine.   American.   A favorite of many.   Some versions have no notes.  Along with Musaís, the most-used translation in American colleges and high schools."
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Dante's Inferno: The First Part of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri
14.  Dante's Inferno: The First Part of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Tom Phillips (1985)  Blank verse.  Includes authorís own illustrations.  Admired by some."
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Hell (translated by Steve Ellis)
15.  Hell (translated by Steve Ellis) by DANTE ALIGHIERI
The list author says:
  "Steve Ellis (1994)  Four-foot lines."
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The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation (English and Italian Edition)
16.  The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation (English and Italian Edition) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Robert Pinsky (1994)  Meter varies, with some rhyming.   Famous American poet.  Admired by some.  Illustrated by Michael Mazur."
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The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Volume 1: Inferno
17.  The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Volume 1: Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Robert M. Durling and Robert Martinez (1996)   Prose.  Tercets correspond to paragraphs.  American professors.  Scholarly."
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The Inferno
18.  The Inferno by Dante
The list author says:
  "Robert and Jean Hollander (2002)  Husband and wife.  Husband is a professor at Princeton University and is responsible for the useful Princeton Dante Project on the internet."
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Inferno: A New Verse Translation (New Verse Translation by Michael Palma) (Vol 1)
19.  Inferno: A New Verse Translation (New Verse Translation by Michael Palma) (Vol 1) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Michael Palma (2003) (W.W. Norton)"
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Inferno (Modern Library Classics)
20.  Inferno (Modern Library Classics) by Anthony M. Esolen
The list author says:
  "Anthony Esolen (2005) (Modern Library Classics)"
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The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) (Pt. 1) (English and Italian Edition)
21.  The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) (Pt. 1) (English and Italian Edition) by Dante Alighieri
The list author says:
  "Robin Kirkpatrick  (2006) (Penguin Classics)"
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Kirk Petersen (Eldorado Spgs, Colo.)
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Last updated: 11/2/07
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