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The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation (English and Italian Edition) Paperback – September 1, 1997
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The one quality that all classic works of literature share is their timelessness. Shakespeare still plays in Peoria 400 years after his death because the stories he dramatized resonate in modern readers' hearts and minds; methods of warfare have changed quite a bit since the Trojan War described by Homer in his Iliad, but the passions and conflicts that shaped such warriors as Achilles, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Odysseus still find their counterparts today on battlefields from Bosnia to Afghanistan. Likewise, a little travel guide to hell written by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri in the 13th century remains in print at the end of the 20th century, and it continues to speak to new generations of readers. There have been countless translations of the Inferno, but this one by poet Robert Pinsky is both eloquent and tailored to our times.
Yes, this is an epic poem, but don't let that put you off. An excellent introduction provides context for the work, while detailed notes on each canto are a virtual who's who of 13th-century Italian politics, culture, and literature. Best of all, Pinsky's brilliant translation communicates the horror, despair, and terror of hell with such immediacy, you can almost smell the sulfur and feel the heat from the rain of fire as Dante--led by his faithful guide Virgil--descends lower and lower into the pit. Dante's journey through Satan's kingdom must rate as one of the great fictional travel tales of all time, and Pinsky does it great justice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Though transforming Dante's terza rima into readable English has bogged down many a distinguished translator, Pinsky (The Want Bone) more than meets the challenge. His rendering has an efficient feel; the lines seem slimmer and less unwieldy than most contemporary verse translations. Each one of the cantos features a good number of stanzas dominated by monosyllables-his answer, along with intriguing patterns of assonance, to approximating the splendor of Dante's profusion of rhymes, which are impossible to replicate in English. The coherent narration of the translation is also welcome, as it keeps a harness on the sometimes meandering diction of the original. Pinsky's voice is nearly irresistible when rounding out the grotesqueries of Dante's Hell: his versions of the ninth and final circle bring the bizarre terror of the fiery pit to life. Plainspoken yet elegant, this Inferno sustains a tactile succession of images over 34 cantos, and lends itself to being read aloud. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As an example, here's the start of Cary's Canto I:
In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct : and e'en to tell,
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough it's growth
Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard - so tangled and rough
Cary's translation is really lyrical and beautiful but it's not pure Dante and you see how Pinsky almost effortlessly maintains the three-line terza rima and loses not a bit in his near-direct translation. A marvelous thing about this is that a new Dante reader will open it up and become engrossed and will not think of this as a chore. I only wish that Pinsky would translate the remaining two books of The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio and Paradiso.
The illustrations in this book are by Michael Mazur and are a little too abstract for me but only because I love the Gustave Dore illustrations of the Divine Comedy. You may want to get the Dore illustrations The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy and keep it in your lap while reading Pinsky's translation.
Dante tries to get into heaven but is kept from going up the mountain. A man that he highly respects comes to him to be his guide through hell so that he can work his way up into heaven. It's fascinating to see Dante's interpretation of the levels of hell and the sins and punishments that go with it. It really made me think.
I highly recommend this book, whether or not you're in a lit. studies class. I would read it again just for the fun of it.
If you're worried about not getting the references, don't. I mean, you shouldn't be anyway. If you're reading this review, you clearly have access to the internet and therefore google. But anyway, the book contains all the footnotes you'd need to follow Dante's every reference. Definitely worth the read.