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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good translation of a masterful classic.
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...
Published on August 21, 2000 by ankh fire

versus
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem with pagination in Kindle Edition of Inferno by Mandelbaum
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...
Published on April 12, 2012 by Charles F. Hanes


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good translation of a masterful classic., August 21, 2000
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (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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71 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandelbaum's translation of this poetic masterpiece soars, November 24, 2002
By 
Christopher Culver (Cluj-Napoca, Romania or Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
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). Mandelbaum's verse translation melds a faithful rendering of the Italian with excellent poetry, and has been praised by numerous scholars of Dante, including Irma Brandeis. Here's an example from Canto XIII, where the poet and Virgil enter a forest where the trees are the souls of suicides:

"No green leaves in that forest, only black;
no branches straight and smooth, but knotted, gnarled;
no fruits were there, but briars bearing poison"

Mandelbaum's translation also contains an interesting introduction by Mandelbaum, extensive notes (which are based on the California Lectura Dantis), and two afterwords. The first of these, "Dante in His Age" is an enlightening biography of Dante and how he came to write the Comedy while in exile. The second "Dante as Ancient and Modern" examines Dante both as a wielder of classical knowledge and as a poet working in a new and distinctly late-Medieval style (the "dolce stil nuovo") which broke poetry out of the grip of Latin and made it something for people of every class.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem with pagination in Kindle Edition of Inferno by Mandelbaum, April 12, 2012
By 
Charles F. Hanes (San Jose, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary, April 29, 2011
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greetings from Hell, July 28, 2001
By 
Kellyannl (Bronx, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Many writers have imagined what the underworld is like, from ancient times to our own - but no one has ever matched Dante's nightmare, written as a warning to a Renaissance Florence that would face the Great Plague only a generation later.
We begin as Dante is met by the ancient poet Virgil, his guide on this first leg of a tour of the afterlife (Purgatorio and Paradiso follow - Inferno, regarding sin, despair, and a little gossip of Dante's time, is of course the most powerful and popular of the trilogy). He meets the righteous heathens who were not exposed to Christianity but may have hope of heaven eventually, and further on those guilty of relatively minor sins like adultery and gluttony. But soon enough they reach that famous gate after which all hope is to be abandoned. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
This is a fascinating document of the ethics of the time, and it's interesting to compare Dante's morality to our own in the 21st century. For Dante premeditated intent is everything, which means that a hotheaded murderer is on a higher level of hell than, for instance, a deliberate flatterer - something I think it's safe to say most of us would violently disagree with. It's also quite interesting to watch Dante himself change, as he moves from compassion (he actually meets some departed friends, especially in the less tortuous upper levels) to occasional viciousness (as he not surprisingly meets departed enemies, especially in the unspeakable lower levels).
This is also a horror story of the first rate. If you doubt this a reading of, for instance, Ugolino's account of his starvation with his sons and grandsons near the end should change your mind in a hurry - and there are many other examples. Aside from Virgil's presence there is very little relief as the punishments become more and more horrific.
If you have a glimmer of fear for your immortal soul and a good imagination, this is potentially nightmare inducing stuff that's likely to keep you good for quite some time to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Translation for the Novice, November 21, 2007
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This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
I paid an absolute fortune for this edition while studying in Perugia, Italy (apparently the dollar isn't doing so well these days, hence the price), but I would say it was worth it. My first time reading Dante (recreationally, to boot!), I was entraced by the beautiful language of the translation. In his story, Dante makes several obscure references to unknown historical figures of his age. This edition features the Italian text on the left side of the page, and english on the other. This was great to help me improve my Italian, or if I wasn't sure of the meaning of a word, I was able to work out another translation. The notes at the end of the book served to inform without dumbing it down. Don't be confused--these are not cliffnotes at the end, simply clarifications. As a Dante novice, I fell in love with this edition and quickly recommended it to all my friends. In fact, after I finished, I ran back to the Italian bookstore to purchase Purgatorio and Paradiso, each equally as expensive as Inferno. As far as the story goes, it is very highly praised. It is completely beautiful, and truly helps you grasp more Italian context, as well as to catch the many literary and pop culture references to Dante that exist today. It's just so amazing, it is quickly understandable why it is so unbelieveably popular.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See you there when it's over., January 29, 2001
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
At the rate I'm going, I'll be in one of those circles of hell eventually, but since I'll be in such good company (all of late 13th century Florence, for starters) I don't think I can complain. In spite of Voltaire's opinion, I believe Dante is still read today, as was in Voltaire's time, because people find something of value in this, his most famous poem. The entire "Commedia" consists of two more books, the "Purgatorio" and the "Paradiso," which I have not read. I'll read them eventually, but, for the time being, I am quite happy with the "Inferno." The Florentine poet grabs Virgil as a guide that will take him out of the dark woods where Dante found himself wandering because he had lost the way of his life, and together they will go in a journey through Hell because the divine Beatrice has commanded that Dante must be led, so his eyes and heart can be opened and he can be saved. If this is true, I hope she is wrong, because I would like to talk to Dante, and if he goes to Paradise I would have no chance at all.
The "Inferno" is one of the most important poems ever written. Doomed lovers, murderers, traitors, liars, Dante's political enemies (including a Pope), righteous heathens, all of them have Hell as their final address. Dante talks to many of them, and they tell him their stories. I loved this poem. I found Odysseus where he belongs (with the liars), and Dido and Cleopatra, together in suicide. Most of all, I found an arrogant, self-centered Florentine poet who truly believed that the world revolved around him and wrote a monument of Western Literature just to prove it: I had to like Dante and his poem. The only reason I give this version four stars is because I do not think it is as good as the verse translation by Laurence Binyon. I have read both by now, and the old Binyon rendition of Florentine Italian into English is simply beautiful, where Mandelbaum's more businesslike version is clear if rather unpoetic. I wish a Binyon's version were available, but his translation of the Commedia seems to be out of print and I am the only person I know that has the "Divine Comedy" translated by Laurence Binyon. Still, I read the Mandelbaum for class and I enjoyed it almost as much as my favorite one. Whichever translation you choose (Ciardi's is in rhyme verse, too, while Musas's is not) I think you will enjoy this dark, wonderful journey that Dante took in 1300. If he is right about his poetic vision of the netherworld, most of us will be there in one circle or another, with medieval Florentines all around us. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, March 9, 2012
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Zappulla but Mandelbaum, September 28, 2010
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This book is not what is advertised. The translation is not Zappulla's (which is too bad because he did a wonderful job) but rather Allen Mandelbaum (who's translation is also excellent.) I would recommend this book but it's unfortunate that Amazon has mis-identified this edition. I would very much like to have the Zappulla translation as well as the Hollander translation.

For students of Dante, this version is an excellent place to start but it would be nice to also see Musa, Hollander and Zappulla in the Kindle Store.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Hell, December 13, 2009
This review is from: Inferno (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Midway life's journey I was made aware/that I had strayed into a dark forest..." Those eerie words open the first cantica of Dante Alighieri's "Inferno," the most famous part of the legendary Divina Comedia. But the stuff going on here is anything but divine, as Dante explores the metaphorical and supernatural horrors of the inferno.

The date is Good Friday of the year 1300, and Dante is lost in a creepy dark forest, being assaulted by a trio of beasts who symbolize his own sins. But suddenly he is rescued ("Not man; man I once was") by the legendary poet Virgil, who takes the despondent Dante under his wing -- and down into Hell.

But this isn't a straightforward hell of flames and dancing devils. Instead, it's a multi-tiered carnival of horrors, where different sins are punished with different means. Opportunists are forever stung by insects, the lustful are trapped in a storm, the greedy are forced to battle against each other, and the violent lie in a river of boiling blood, are transformed into thorn bushes, and are trapped on a volcanic desert.

If nothing else makes you feel like being good, then "The Inferno" might change your mind. The author loads up his "Inferno" with every kind of disgusting, grotesque punishment that you can imagine -- and it's all wrapped up in an allegorical journey of humankind's redemption, not to mention dissing the politics of Italy and Florence.

Along with Virgil -- author of the "Aeneid" -- Dante peppered his Inferno with Greek myth and symbolism. Like the Greek underworld, different punishments await different sins; what's more, there are also appearances by harpies, centaurs, Cerberus and the god Pluto. But the sinners are mostly Dante's contemporaries, from corrupt popes to soldiers.

And Dante's skill as a writer can't be denied -- the grotesque punishments are enough to make your skin crawl ("Fixed in the slime, groan they, 'We were sullen and wroth...'"), and the grand finale is Satan himself, with legendary traitors Brutus, Cassius and Judas sitting in his mouths. (Yes, I said MOUTHS, not "mouth")

More impressive still is his ability to weave the poetry out of symbolism and allegory, without it ever seeming preachy or annoying. Even pre-hell, we have a lion, a leopard and a wolf, which symbolize different sins, and a dark forest that indicates suicidal thoughts. And the punishments themselves usually reflect the person's flaws, such as false prophets having their heads twisted around so they can only see what's behind them. Wicked sense of humor.

Dante's vivid writing and wildly imaginative "inferno" makes this the most fascinating, compelling volume of the Divine Comedy. Never fun, but always spellbinding and complicated.
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Inferno (Bantam Classics)
Inferno (Bantam Classics) by Allen Mandelbaum (Mass Market Paperback - January 1, 1982)
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