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Inferno (Modern Library Classics) Mass Market Paperback – October 25, 2005
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“Professor Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Inferno is the best one I have seen, for two reasons. His decision to use unrhymed blank verse allows him to come nearly as close to the meaning of the original as any prose reading could do, and allows him also to avoid the harrowing sacrifices that the demand for rhyme imposes on any translator. And his endnotes and other additions provoke answers to almost any question that could arise about the work.” —A. Kent Hieatt, professor emeritus, University of Western Ontario
“Esolen’s brilliant translation captures the power and the spirit of a poem that does not easily give up its secrets. The notes and appendices provide exactly the kind of help that most readers will need.” —Robert Royal, president, Faith and Reason Institute
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This edition includes a plot summary before each canto, and footnotes telling you which dead Florentine did what after each canto. For the first-time reader, these are truly helpful -- indeed, essential.
Unlike most translators who completely abandon the idea of making Dante rhyme in English, Ciardi preserves a partial rhyme scheme. The first and third lines of each tercet rhyme, while the middle rhyme is dropped. While Ciardi's translation is reasonably faithful to the original, he had to take minor liberties with the text to make it rhyme. The excellent Musa and Hollander translations are more literal and straightforward, and the Hollander version comes in a handy bilingual edition if you want to try your hand at reading Dante's incredible Italian. Still, the best poetic translation of the Inferno in English remains Ciardi's.
(Note: this review is for the book "The Inferno" translated by John Ciardi and published by Signet Classics in 2001.)
This is book one containing part one (or "canticle" one) of poet Dante Alighieri's (1265 to 1321) three part "The Divine Comedy." This book describes Hell and the eternal suffering of the damned. This poem is comprised of 34 episodes (or "cantos").
Dante at the beginning of the poem explains why he has begun this journey:
"Midway in our life's journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood."
Thus because Dante's life journey has led him "astray from the straight road" (that is, from the straight and narrow), he now finds himself "in a dark wood" (that is, in Hell). Thus the journey through the nooks and crannies of Hell begins. Dante takes this incredible journey with his master and guide, Virgel. Along the way the reader along with the travelers encounters such things as mythical creatures and people, legends, people of Dante's time, biblical people and references, and human victims.
Hell, according to Dante, has 4 complex parts:
(1) The Gate of Hell
(2) The first 7 stone ledges or "circles"
(3) The eighth circle which consists of ditches
(4) The nineth circle with Satan at its center
At the end of this long trek through Hell, Dante says, "My Guide and I crossed over and began / to mount that little known and lightless road / to ascend into the shining world again."
From here, they acsend "The Mount of Purgatory" (which is the subject of Book 2 containing Part 2 called "The Purgatorio").
There is a historical introduction by Archibald MacAllister of Princeton.Read more ›
Of all of the different translations, the translation by Longfellow (which this is) seems to be more accessible then the tedious Mandelbaum version. That's not to say that it in any way dumbed down, it is simply more readable then the other translations that I have sat down in front of.
The illustrations by Gustave Dore are the standard and should never be replaced by anything else. This book has large illustrations of all of his original work seamlessly wrapped around a very readable font.
The preface, footnotes, and endnotes are plentiful and easily flipped to when needed.
The Inferno is a standard for any home good library, and this is an excellent hardcover copy to have for the price.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The subject is so interesting and the writing is beautiful. Only wish I understand Italian so I can read the original. Wrote this in an essay for AP literature. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Jason E.
Dante's THE INFERNO is a classic. Written around 1321, the book predates most of the classics, except Homer's works of course. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Real Laplaine
This book is very fascinating because it shows different punishments in Hell for certain Earthly sins. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anthony Cisneros
I really love the Signet classics editions of world classics that provide good translations and good introductions to us mere mortalsPublished 2 months ago by Elsie