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Inferno (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1982

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An exciting, vivid Inferno by a translator whose scholarship is impeccable."
--Chicago magazine

"The English Dante of choice."--Hugh Kenner.

"Exactly what we have waited for these years, a Dante with clarity, eloquence, terror, and profoundly moving depths."--Robert Fagles, Princeton University.

"Tough and supple, tender and violent . . . vigorous, vernacular . . . Mandelbaum's Dante will stand high among modern translations."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Lovers of the English language will be delighted by this eloquently accomplished enterprise."
--Book Review Digest

Language Notes

Text: English, Italian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Bantam Classic Ed edition (January 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553213393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213393
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By ankh fire on August 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was very pleased with this edition of Inferno, Dante's controversial verse of man's sins. First, the translation was smooth and stayed true to the essence of the story, even though any translation can lose some of the quality of the words. However, there are also facing pages of the original Italian as well. With a short summary of each Canto and a few powerful pencil sketches scattered here and there, this is a very well put together edition. The notes are in the back of the book, which I prefer, so as they don't detract from the story while reading it. There's also a map of Hell and of the Universe according to Dante. Altogether, this is a very informative edition and one of my favorites.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charles F. Hanes on April 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
First, let me say that the print edition of this work is excellent, with the Italian text and English translation by Mandelbaum on facing pages, plus the illustrations by Moser. I have the hardback edition of all three volumes.

The problem with the Kindle edition is that they did not manage to keep the pagination correct. Though a Kindle book does not have facing pages, we could at least expect one page with Italian text, and the next page with the corresponding English translation, etc. Note that I checked this with the Kindle sample on the Kindle iPad app, but I presume this would also be true on actual Kindle devices.

Since this was not done, I can not recommend this edition.
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72 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Dante Alighieri's three part epic The Divine Comedy ranks highly among the literature of the world. Written in early Italian and rhymed in terza rima, its 100 cantos display impressive allegory and use of scholastic philosophy. In INFERNO, the first volume, the narrator finds himself "half of our life's way" (around 35 years old) and lost in a forest at night. When day breaks, three savage animals bar his escape. The Roman poet Virgil (best known for his AENEID) appears and tells him that Heaven has sent him to lead Dante through Hell, Purgatory, and finally Heaven to bring him out of his spiritual malaise.

Dante's Hell differs from the traditional view of everyone together amongst flames. Here the dead receive different punishments based on their sins. Thus, the lustful are caught up eternally in a whirlwind, and astrologers and magicians have their heads reversed (so those who tried to fortell the future can only see their past). Nowhere, however, does anything seem wrong. The dead are placed into Hell not by an unjust God, but by their own decisions and actions. INFERNO is a slow beginning, most of the grace and beauty of the Comedy lies in the subsequent volumes, PURGATORIO and PARADISO. However, this first volume has a solid role in the allegorical significance of the Comedy. Dante wrote not just a simple story of quasi-science fiction, but a moving allegory of the soul moving from perdition to salvation, the act which the poet T.S. Eliot called "Mounting the saint's stair". While INFERNO may occasionally lack excitement on the first reading, the next two volumes thrill and upon reading them one can enjoy INFERNO to the fullest.

I believe that the best translation of INFERNO to get is that of Allen Mandelbaum, which is published by Bantam (ISBN: 0553213393).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Yew on April 29, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Professor Allen Mandelbaum, a lecturer on Italian literature, has given one of the finest and most accurate translations of Dante in the modern era. In the 19th century Longfellow was very accurate (Longfellow's mastery of ancient Italian is quite impeccable) and probably the standard-bearer, and a later notable poetic translation emerged from John Ciardi; in 1982 the mantle passed on to Mandelbaum.

One of Mandelbaum's virtue is his accuracy and excellent reading of the text, as well as his fine ear. Few modern translators of Italian or classical poetry has as good an ear as Mandelbaum: his translation rings consistently true. It is a blank verse ring, no doubt, but it rings nonetheless. He takes few liberties with the text, but there is a quality to his verse. Mandelbaum's Inferno would take the palm over many other modern versions.

Another virtue of this special Bantam edition is Barry Moser's ink/pencil drawings. Moser is a renowned illustrator; his drawings are consistently appropriate and distinguished. The notes are excellent too: not too long but very informative and adequate for the lay reader, up-to-date for its time (and probably still is), written in exemplary, scholarly but unpedantic prose. Italian scholar Gabriel Maruzzo teamed with Mandelbaum for it. Besides the introduction Mandelbaum provides two additional long illuminating essays: "Dante in His Age" and "Dante as Ancient and Modern".

Bantam gives us Dante's Italian text on the left and the Mandelbaum translation on the right. The Bantam paper quality is somewhat cheap and pulpy, but the typography is lovely. Perhaps someone might give us a durable hardback edition of this Bantam Classic someday? Everything else is exemplary. Bravo!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on March 9, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't read Italian, so I can't exactly describe how accurate the translation truly is. I can say that Mandelbaum creates a vivid, epic language that enchants and ensnares. His introduction and meditations on his translation process is almost a masterpiece in itself. His devotion to capturing the essence (tone, rhetoric, thematics, stylistics, etc) of the work while retaining both grandeur and readability is commendable. I've read about three versions of "The Inferno," and Mandelbaum's is by far the most mesmerizing. If you don't believe me, the book is endorsed by Robert Fagles (probably the greatest translator who ever lived) and Hugh Kenner (one of the finest literary critics of the 20th century). The work includes ample footnotes, which are exceedingly useful. Given the limited space that this bilingual translation offers, it is quite astounding how detailed the notes really are. While the Gustave Dore pictorial interpretations of "The Divine Comedy" are absolutely splendid, they have become fairly standard accompaniments with most Dante translations. It is very nice to see new illustrations that still inspire the awe of the Dore visuals. Barry Moser's illustrations are astonishing in that they both create vivid, original pictures of Dante's hell and reflect the thematic elements associated with the Florentine poet's imagery. They also emphasize the gruesome quality inherent in Dante's hell, something that Dore's images don't seem to communicate. I'm in a Dante class at the moment. The professor (an Italian born scholar of early Renaissance Italian literature) has relied on this translation for years. If you want to undertake the splendid journey of Dante's pilgrimage, then this is the best possible book to use for the great journey through hell.
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