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Inferno (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1982
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"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.
"Tough and supple, tender and violent . . . vigorous, vernacular . . . Mandelbaum's Dante will stand high among modern translations."--The Christian Science Monitor
"Lovers of the English language will be delighted by this eloquently accomplished enterprise."
--Book Review Digest
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not accessible to me. Its dense allegory disrupted the narrative flow, and there are many references to contemporary Italian figures which I did not get. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Abner Rosenweig
This was purchased for my daughter. She asked for this book, she read something about the 7 depths of hell and was told this book would give her more info on what she was... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Lypiphera
I like Dante's depiction of hell with the nine circles of suffering and also Satan's personality.Published 9 months ago by David Wood
Well known book however the translation is superb. Allen Mandelbaum is a poet.Published 9 months ago by Arlene Jackson
The most popular, for good reason, of Dante's Comedia. Amazingly worded, graphic and telling imagrery, metaphor and symbolism. Read morePublished 12 months ago by FrugalShopper
A must read. Some in first person but it switches. You have to read it.Published 13 months ago by Anthony E. King
As several one and two star reviews have noted, there is a problem in the Kindle version of displaying both the original Italian text side by side with the English translation as... Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Maddy