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Inferno (Modern Library Classics) Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Bilingual edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034548357X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345483577
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Dante’s conversations with his mentor Virgil and the doomed shades are by turns assertive and abashed, irritated and pitying and inquisitive, and Anthony Esolen’s new translation renders them so sensitively that they seem to take place in the same room with us. It follows Dante through all his spectacular range, commanding where he is commanding, wrestling, as he does, with the density and darkness in language and in the soul. This Inferno gives us Dante’s vivid drama and his verbal inventiveness. It is living writing.” —James Richardson, Princeton University

“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.

About the Author

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.


From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence. His family, of minor nobility, was not wealthy nor especially distinguished; his mother died when he was a child, his father before 1283. At about the age of 20 he married Gemma Donati, by whom he had three children. Little is known of Dante's formal education-it is likely to have included study with the Dominicans, the Augustinians, and the Franciscans in Florence, and at the university in Bologna. In 1295 he entered Florentine politics and in the summer of 1300 he became one of the six governing Priors of Florence. In 1301, the political situation forced Dante and his party into exile. For the rest of his life he wandered through Italy, perhaps studied at Paris, while depending for refuge on the generosity of various nobles. He continued to write and at some point late in life he took asylum in Ravenna where he completed the Divine Commedia and died, much honoured, in 1321.

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone who can read.
Vijay Singh
Unlike most translators who completely abandon the idea of making Dante rhyme in English, Ciardi preserves a partial rhyme scheme.
Kristin Van Tilborg
The notes before every Canto is crucially helpful in helping readers keeping up with ancient historical references.
Shirley Li

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Kristin Van Tilborg on August 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ciardi's translation of Dante's Inferno is one of the very best. Its major strength is the intensity and power of its language. Although the translation is now more than fifty years old, it remains fresh, unencumbered by archaisms. Ciardi is a poet and it shows. I found myself more stunned by the horrors of hell in this translation than any other I've seen. Chills ran down my spine as I read about Count Ugolino encased in the ice.

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.
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108 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Vijay Singh on December 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First let me say that i am 13 years old; however, my favorite thing to do is to sit down with a good book and read for a good 2 to 5 hours. I have read books like For Whom The Bell Tolls and To Kill A Mockingbird. I heard about the inferno from one of my teachers who said that I should read it when I get to college or to my seinor year in high school. Well I didn't want to wait that long so I came to this site and purchased this book. It changed my life, never before have I read anything like it. When I finished this book I went and read other translations of it. However, this one was by far the best. It captured every aspect of Dante's genious writing and put it into american coming the closest to the real version as possible. Notes also help to decipher and understand Dante's masterpiece. I would recommend this book to anyone who can read.
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60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Shirley Li on April 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Don't read Dante for his fame, don't judge The Inferno for its subject. Instead, savor Dante's overpowering language that is cleverly winded around one of life's most daunting matter-Hell. Pervaded with vivid and often gruesome imageries, Inferno captures the very essence of suffering through Dante's unqiue understanding of religion with a blend of paganism and christianity. Also it's a thrilling ride down the underworld to be met by history's greatest souls. The notes before every Canto is crucially helpful in helping readers keeping up with ancient historical references. And feeling yourself penetrating the Nine Circles of Hell in the company of Dante and Vergil, you will surely catch a rare taste of the living value as Vergil guides curious eyes down a path where judgment befalls every single flaw of human nature. Perhaps, just perhaps you will attain a better sense of your existence once matched against the standards of Nine Circles designed for different sins. I call that a gripping journey.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hamilton on December 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As I would never attempt to actually review Dante's Inferno, I am only going to review this version in comparison to others.

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.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jim Conlin on November 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
600 years and I'm the first to review it?
Okay, maybe just the first to review this paperback edition.
Having read my fair share of classic literature, this is the first time I've read the poetic technique of storytelling (haven't read any Homer yet either).
I gather from the translator's note and the Introduction that Ciardi's departure from the original, strict three line rhyme gave him more freedom to translate Dante's spirit and intent of the journey through Hell and make it an easier read for the typical reader (like me) than other translations. As it is, Ciardi employs the rhyming first and third line rhythm and it worked for me.
I found the "prefaces" at the beginning of each chapter or "Canto" to be very useful in preparing me for what was to appear on the following pages. And not being a student of mythology, the notes at the end of each chapter tended to fill in the blanks in what I had just read.
For me it was still a challenging read but the simplification helped. And while purists may find Ciardi's liberties an abomination (just a suspicion), they certainly helped me understand and enjoy the work more. If Dante's Inferno is required reading for class or personal enlightenment, this edition is likely a good choice.
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