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The Divine Comedy: Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso (Everyman's Library) Hardcover – August 1, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

“A marvel of fidelity to the original, of sobriety, and truly, of inspired poetry.” –Henri Peyre, Yale University

From the Inside Flap

Introduction by Eugenio Montale; Translation by Allen Mandelbaum

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 798 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; One-volume edition (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679433139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679433132
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This Everyman edition of Allen Mandelbaum's superb translation of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY is my favorite one-volume edition currently in print in English. There are many very, very good things to say about this translation and edition. First and perhaps foremost, it contains Mandelbaum's remarkable translation of Dante, a translation often noted for being the best compromise between poetic rhythm, beauty, and accuracy. Of recent translations, the only one that I like as much as Mandelbaum's is Pinsky's great translation of the INFERNO, but unfortunately he has not, as has Mandelbaum, gone on to translate the entirety of Dante's masterpiece. Though Pinsky's translation is renowned for following the terza rima rhyme pattern, it actually reads more like a prose translation, primarily because he observes no meter for each line (Dante's original has eleven syllables per line, precisely like Shakespeare's famous line, "To be or not to be, that is the question"). Mandelbaum observes neither meter nor rhyme, but I personally find more of a poetic concentration of language than one finds in Pinsky. Most of all, Mandelbaum's translation is, like Pinsky's, highly readable and extremely dynamic. Until and if Pinsky completes his translation, Mandelbaum is likely to remain my favorite translation of Dante in English (though happily there are a host of very good translations, including those by Huse, Sinclair, and Singleton).

The volume is remarkably attractive, with a lovely dust jacket (not shown in the Amazon book photo), covers wrapped in cloth, non-acidic, nonreflective paper, and a ribbon bookmark. Also, the volume features a large number of Botticelli's illustrations of Dante, which obviously adds immensely to its value and its attractiveness.
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Format: Hardcover
Since it is given that Dante's Divine Comedy is one of the most important works of Western Literature, my review will focus on the translation rather than the original. Mandelbaum's translation was good, but not great. His greatest strength is that he maitains a strong sense of readability throughout most of the text. Although he does occasionally lapse into confusing gramatical structures in order to maintain the form of the poem, these are rare and do not detract from the reading to too great of an extent. However, what is lost in this translation at times, is the sense of poetry and pacing that are so crucial to Dante. This is not entirely his fault, however. In this edition of his work, there is no white space between each triplet of the poem. This, coupled with Mandelbaum's not having made any attempt to reflect terza rima in his translation, disrupts the flow of the original. While this is a small complaint, it does keep Mandelbaum's translation from achieving the brilliance of Pinsky and Merwin. However, Mandelbaum does have one advantage over those other two translators: he does the entire Comedy. While Pinsky's Inferno and Merwin's Purgatorio are superior to the same works in Mandelbaum's hands, Mandelbaum's translation is, in my opinion, the finest complete translation available.
The glossing of the book is also strong, but, like the translation, does contain a few flaws. The notes are very thorough, but sometimes gloss the obvious, which can be quite tedious.
Also, I would have preffered a higher quality of paper and print. While I realize that this series of books is intended to be inexpensive, a work with the length and depth of the Comedy warrants the extra expense necessary to make the reading experience less ardous.
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By A Customer on November 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am, and have been for many a year, a scholar of the works of Dante. Coming up to date, I have read thousands of translations of the text of all three parts of the Divine comedy, and this is the best I have found yet. First of all, it is a treat to find that all three parts of this master work are collected in this one volume, and even though the price is quite low for a hardcover book with as many pages as this, I cannot stress the quality of this edition. As many may know, Dante Alighieri was a man of great literary prowess, but was given drive by his single obsession to a small girl by the name of Beatrice. She rings true in this work, as the guiding angel, bringing Dante through the depths of hell, the wasteland of Purgatory, and finally, the glory of heaven. This has been one of the most enduring works on the human spirit, and the concept of god as seen through Christianity. Full of pun and metaphor, this is rich in language, and ready to please. Some people start their studies of Epic Poetry with Milton's "Paradise lost," but I say, speaking from experience, that Dante is far superior to Milton, but Milton is in good company as his second. I have read the original in Italian, and this is about as close of a translation as you can get. Please enjoy this.
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Format: Hardcover
Not much needs to be said about Dante and his Comedy. If you don't already know what it's about that's a shame. Dante was an amazing poet and this journey through hell, purgatory and heaven is a reflection of so much about him and he times he lived in. While some poeple believe that this was purely a work of religious fervor I know that it was only patially based in that. The book was also political... just take a look at the people he put in hell! People he had issues with. This edition is great because it has endnotes which explain all of Dante's sometimes veiled references to people and events. But that doesn't detract from Dante's knowledge of Catholic dogma and his Grecco-Roman myth heritage. He draws from many sources (including the writings of Aquinas) religious and secular to form his vision of hell, purgatory and heaven.
Now, as to the translator. I know that it's always hard to maintain a balance between the literal translation and the feeling of the poetry. In my opinion Mandelbaum has done the right thing in staying more on the side of literacy. Yes, Dante was a poet and he wrote beautiful poetry, but in order for us English speakers to really get what his Comedy is saying we have to have a little clarity. Dante is veiled enough, he's a poet, when you translate poetry into more poetry you run the risk of just obfuscating more. If you haven't ever read the Divine Comedy then try this translation first. If you know Italian then go read the Italian and skip this translation silliness. Or try the paperback versions that split up Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven into separate books. The Italian is on one side and the translation on the other. But after gaining a good understanding of the text then by all means go read more poetic versions to get a better feel of the beauty of Dante's language.
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