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The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0142437223 ISBN-10: 0142437220 Edition: Revised

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The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) + The Divine Comedy, Vol. 3: Paradise + The Divine Comedy, Vol. II: Purgatory
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437223
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As part of a projected six-volume edition of the Divine Comedy, Musa (Indiana Univ.) has revised and reissued his translation of Dante's Inferno (LJ 3/1/95) in a bilingual edition, accompanied by a volume-length commentary. Musa's translation is in fluent, colloquial verse that aims for the speed and rhythm of the original though not the form. This serviceable version is on the same level as the recent translations by Robert Pinskey (LJ 11/1/94) and Robert Durling (LJ 3/15/96). Musa's commentary is thorough and clear but doesn't significantly supersede that of Charles S. Singleton (1970). Nevertheless, it can be recommended.?Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Musa operates on the principle that a translator's first duty is to render the original text as exactly as possible without compromising the literary quality of the work.... [This is] the best English-language version of the Inferno currently available." —Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

In my opinion, Mark Musa did an excellent job translating.
Having the summary and notes bookending each Canto made them extremely easy to follow and understand.
I loved the book and would highly recommend it for book discussion groups.
Donna L. Coleman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 118 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To be well read means that you have read the Comedy (at least once). At once haunting, dark and yet grotesquely beautiful, Dante has written for us the definitive Catholic epic poem of hell, purgatory and heaven. Mark Musa is one of the foremost Dante scholars in the world & teaches at the university of Indiana. His footnotes & commentaries are exceptional, a trademark that is not only a luxury but is, in fact, a necessity when it comes to Dante. I would recommend everyone read not just the Inferno, but all three canticles of the Comedy as a whole. One cannot truly understand everything in Inferno without reading thru the entire poem (including Purgatory and Paradise). Would also admonish that anyone interested in this work begin with Virgil's Aeneid and also read some Homer, Plato & Aristotle as well as some Roman history for a rough background of the work. Be advised that the bard expects you to have read everything he has so that you will catch all of his allusions. Once again, this is where Musa's footnotes come in handy, but there is still no substitute for actually reading thru the primary texts that serve as the foundation of this work. Also, would advise that one read the short work, La Vita Nuova (The New Life) before reading the Comedy, as it is basically a prologue to his epic. It will also help make more sense re: the pilgrim's near-obsessive love that he has for Beatrice. This is truly one of the great epic poems ever written and it positions Dante right up there with Homer, Goethe & Virgil.
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By interested_observer on July 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
About twenty years ago I read Dorothy Sayers's translation of Dante's "Divine Comedy" with great pleasure, finding an awesome grandeur in Dante's progression from Hell through Purgatory to Heaven. When I decided to re-read the work, I found the poetry tortured and the references obscure. So I went comparison shopping, settling on Mark Musa's version. He created an excellent, free-flowing, poetic, and easily understandable translation of the three canticles of Dante's "Divine Comedy" for Penguin Classics.
In addition to the direct translation, Musa provides an introductory summary to each canto, detailed notes following each canto, a glossary of names in the back of each volume, and an introductory essay for each volume. The introduction to "Volume 1: Inferno" gives a thorough introduction to Dante and to his other works as well as to the Inferno. Following the introduction is a translator's note. The introductions to "Purgatory" and "Paradise" do not go over the extra information presented in "Inferno". It is useful to read all three of Dante's canticles in the Musa translation to get a complete, consistent presentation of the work. Musa does make reference in his notes to one volume to ideas or people presented in the others.
The notes are vital for almost everyone. The references to Biblical, classical, and medieval personalities, myths, time systems, theology, and events come frequently. Few people are up on the ins and outs of Guelf vs. Ghibelline in medieval Italian politics. Musa makes it all as clear as it needs to be.
Musa's version of "Inferno" italicizes the introductory summary before each canticle and retains the detailed, interesting mappings of Hell used in the Sayers edition.
Dante's poem is central to Western civilization.
Read more ›
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mark Musa's translation of the Divine Comedy is the smoothest, most enjoyable version I have read. (I've read a few.) Mr. Musa provides a brief summation at the beginning of each Canto of Dante's Inferno. He then follows the summation with the actual poem (his translation), and then, after each Canto, he gives in-depth notes on all the references Dante has made -- which may often be obscure to the modern reader. This version is perfect for high-school and college students as well as the leisure time reader who simply wants to become acquainted with this foundation of Western poetry.
The Inferno is the first volume of the Divine Comedy and tells the story of how Dante is taken by the spirit of Virgil through the depths of Hell. The scenes and characters that they encounter cover many different human emotions; mostly sorrowful ones while Dante and Virgil are in Hell. This first volume is the most famous of the three, but Mark Musa's translation makes it so quick and entertaining to read, that I think most will find themselves wanting to continue on into the final two volumes, which I would highly recommend in order for one to obtain the entire perspective of this brilliant poem.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Carlo on September 18, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love Dante so much I cannot find words to explain it. His epic (all three parts, not just Inferno) leaves one gasping for adjectives. It's mind-boggling that he even TRIED to write such a thing. The fact that he actually succeeded at what he attempted to do is totally amazing.
And I have read many translations: Ciardi, Mandelbaum, Binyan, Sayers, etc. Some of them are quite good. But Mark Musa's is the only one where the translator has actually managed to accomplish something so wonderful that it is actually worthy of his great model. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, if an English translation is necessary, Paradiso almost HAS to be read in Musa's. Inferno and Purgatorio are both a bit more down-to-earth and accessible. But Paradiso - which is a GREAT poem - is almost unreadable in any other English translation I've seen. But not in this one.
His commentary also proves that even after 700 years, there are still great and strong insights to be gained into this greatest of epics.
Great job, Mr. Musa. I almost wished I lived in Indiana, so I could attend your courses at Indiana State University. Great, great job.
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