- Hardcover: 672 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (December 26, 2000)
- Language: English, Italian
- ISBN-10: 0385496974
- ISBN-13: 978-0385496971
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (448 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Inferno (English and Italian Edition) Hardcover – December 26, 2000
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Translation is always an imperfect art, demanding from its practitioners a level of dual fidelity that even a seasoned bigamist would envy. And no work of art has prompted more in the way of earnest imperfection than Dante's Divine Comedy. Transforming those intricate, rhyme-rich tercets into English has been the despair of many a distinguished translator, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to W.S. Merwin (whose estimable rendition of Purgatorio found the poet rattling over more than one linguistic speed bump). Now comes a fresh rendition of the Inferno from a husband-and-wife team. Robert Hollander, who has taught Dante for nearly four decades at Princeton, supplies the scholarly muscle, while his wife, poet Jean Hollander, attends to the verbal music.
How does their collaboration stack up? In his introduction, Robert Hollander is quick to acknowledge his debt to John D. Sinclair's prose trot of 1939, and to the version that Charles Singleton derived largely from his predecessor's in 1970. Yet the Hollanders have done us all a favor by throwing Sinclair's faux medievalisms overboard. And their predilection for direct, monosyllabic English sometimes brings them much closer to Dante's asperity and rhythmic urgency. One example will suffice. In the last line of Canto V, after listening to Francesca's adulterous aria, the poet faints: "E caddi come corpo morto cade." Sinclair's rendering---"I swooned as if in death and dropped like a dead body"--has a kind of conditional mushiness to it. Compare the punchier rendition from the Hollanders: "And down I fell as a dead body falls." It sounds like an actual line of English verse, which is the least we can do for the supreme poet of our beleaguered civilization.
Robert Hollander has also supplied an extensive and very welcome commentary. There are times, perhaps, when he might have broken ranks with his academic ancestors: why not deviate from Giorgio Petrocchi's 1967 edition of the Italian text when he thinks that the great scholar was barking up the wrong tree? In any case, the Hollanders' Inferno is a fine addition to the burgeoning bookshelf of Dante in English. It won't displace the relatively recent verse translations by Robert Pinsky or Allen Mandelbaum, and even John Ciardi's version, which sometimes substitutes breeziness for accuracy, can probably hold its own here. But when it comes to high fidelity and exegetical generosity, this Inferno burns brightly indeed. --James Marcus
From Publishers Weekly
The opening canzone of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy has appeared in almost every imaginable variety of English translation: prose, blank verse and iambic pentameter; unrhymed or in terza rima; with and without the original Italian; with commentary ranging from a few notes to a full separate volume. The translations have been produced by poets, scholars and poet-scholars. In the past six years alone, six new translations of the Inferno have appeared (including Robert Pinsky's 1994 rendition for FSG) and at least 10 others remain in print, including Allen Mandelbaum's celebrated 1980 translation (Univ. of Calif. Press and Bantam) and the extensively annotated editions of Charles Singleton (Princeton Univ. Press) and Mark Musa (Univ. of Indiana Press), the latter two unlikely to be surpassed soon in terms of extensiveness of commentary.Dante scholar Robert Hollander and the poet Jean Hollander bring to this crowded market a new translation of the Inferno that, remarkably, is by no means redundant and will for many be the definitive edition for the foreseeable future. The heart of the Hollanders' edition is the translation itself, which nicely balances the precision required for a much-interpreted allegory and the poetic qualities that draw most readers to the work. The result is a terse, lean Dante with its own kind of beauty. While Mandelbaum's translation begins "When I had journeyed half of our life's way,/ I found myself within a shadowed forest,/ for I had lost the path that does not stray," the Hollanders' rendition reads: "Midway in the journey of our life/ I came to myself in a dark wood,/ for the straight way was lost." While there will be debate about the relative poetic merit of this new translation in comparison to the accomplishments of Mandelbaum, Pinsky, Zappulla and others, the Hollanders' lines will satisfy both the poetry lover and scholar; they are at once literary, accessible and possessed of the seeming transparence that often characterizes great translations. The Italian text is included on the facing page for easy reference, along with notes drawing on some 60 Dante scholars, several indexes, a list of works cited and an introduction by Robert Hollander. General readers, students and scholars will all find their favorite circles within this layered text.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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For the serious student of Dante, this e-reader edition perhaps sets the standard for its ready access to the Italian and to the commentary. The default mode for each canto is the english text with links to the left for the corresponding original Italian. To the right are links to Hollander's analyses, line by line. Click on the link and the relevant Italian or annotation appears. Having read and studied the poem both with the Hollanders' hard-copy edition, the electronic version is far more user-friendly than scrambling back and forth through twenty or more pages to find an annotation and then return to the text, only to find another annotation in the next line or tercet.
It might be of interest to also view the youtube videos of two Robert Hollander lectures at the University of Dallas. He is complete FULL of Dante. His enthusiasm and humor are infectious while transmitting a scholarly approach. Hollander says that Dante only offends two groups of people, non-believers and believers! This highlights one important aspect of this great poet, Dante's statement that Commedia is theological, not poetic allegory. This means that the narrative is claimed by Dante as to be literally true.
This e-book is a gem and a bargain.
SO, MUCH LATER IN LIFE, WITH THE FULL REALIZATION THAT THIS IS DANTE'S OWN PERSONAL INFERNO (HELL), I HAD JUST FINISHED A REGULAR NOVEL THAT MADE MANY REFERENCES TO THE INFERNO AND I DECIDED THAT IT WAS TIME THAT I GET SERIOUS AND GO ON AND READ THIS, I MEAN, I AM A GOOD LITTLE CHRISTIAN GIRL; HOW BAD COULD THIS INFERNO BE? I TRY TO DO AS THE BIBLE SAYS, SO I HAVE NO REASON TO BE AFRAID OF HELL, ESPECIALLY A HELL AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF THIS FELLOW DANTE.
WELL, THINK AGAIN, MY DEAR, I MENTALLY RELATED TO MYSELF. THE VIVID LAYERS OF HELL DESCRIBE IN THIS BOOK LEAVE ME TREMBLING, BECAUSE IT QUICKLY BECOMES APPARENT THAT THE WOES FOUND THEREIN COULD EASILY, EVER TOO EASILY, BE UNIVERSAL IN NATURE.
THIS IS WRITTEN IN CANTOS OR SONGS, SO IT WOULD BE EASIER FOR THE COMMON MAN TO MEMORIZE THE TEXT, THUS HAVING IT AT HIS HEART TIPS WHEN IN DANGER, TRYING TO GAIN UNDERSTANING, OR IN GAINING A GLIMPSE OF PEACE THAT OUR LORD HAD OFFERED US.
IN CANTO ONE, DANTE IS LOST IN A DARK WOOD WHERE HE IS FOUND BY VIRGIL WHO PROMISES TO TAKE HIM ON OTHERWORDLY ADVENTURES.. CANTO TWO: DANTE SEEKS TO BE ASSURED THAT HE IS STRONG ENOUGH TO PASS INTO THE WORLD OF THE DEAD, WHILE YET A LIVING SOUL. BEATRICE, A BLESSED WOMAN OF HEAVEN COMES DOWN FROM HEAVEN TO GIVE HER ASSURANCE. DURING THIS CANTO, DANTE GLIMPSES LIMBO, BUT DOES NOT YET VISIT IT. CANTO III: VIRGIL AND DANTE ENTER THE GATES OF HELL ON WHOSE ARCHWAY IS INSCRIBED"ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE." DANTE WAS AFRAID THISTATEMENT ALSO REFERRED TO HIM, BUT VIRGIL TOLD HIM TO PUT HIS FEARS ASIDE AS HE WAS STILL A LIVING BEING CREATED BY GOD WHO RETAINED HIS INTELLECT, WHILE THOSE ALREADY ABIDING IN HELL, WHILE STILL A PART OF GOD'S CREATION, HAD GIVEN UP THE ABILITY TO THINK AND REASON; THUS, TO CHOSE FOR GOD, SO WITH NO RECOURSE, THEY WERE TRULY LOST. PRIOR TO ENTERING THE GATES OF HELL IS AN ENTRY WAY WHERE FOREVER SHALL RESIDE THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO WERE NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD; THAT IS, THOSE WHO COULD NOT/WOULD NOT CHOSE FOR OUR LORD, OR FOR THE EVIL ONE. ALSO, HERE RESIDE THE ANGELS WHO DID NEITHER REBEL WITH SATAN; NOR, DID THEY CHOSE TO GO WITH GOD. INSTEAD THEY CHOSE TO GO THEIR OWN WAY...A WAY THAT SUITED THEM.....
AND IF WE WILL NOTE IN OUR WORLD TODAY, THAT IS OUR GREATEST AND MOST FEARED SCOURGE: THOSE WHO WILL GO THE WAY WHICH TO THEY, THEMSELVES, SEEM THE RIGHT WAY. THEY WILL NOT REPENT AND TURN BACK TO GOD FOR THE INSTANT FORGIVENESS OF SIN WHICH HE OFFERS. AND YET AGAIN, THEY WILL NOT CHOSE THE WAY OF THE DEVIL. IT IS THIS OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO RAN TO CHURCH FOR A WEEK OR TWO AFTER 9-11, BUT THEN FADED BACK TO THEIR OWN PATH WHICH SEEMED TO THEM THE BEST WAY. THESE PEOPLE REFUSE TO REPENT AND THOUGH WE PURPORT TO BE A CHRISTIAN NATION, THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH OF US WHO DO PRAY AND SEEK GOD'S WISDOM TO P.REVENT THE CONTINUING PUNISHMENTS UPON OUR REBELLIOUS NATIONTHE SECOND PUNISHMENT CAME WHEN THE STOCK MARKET FELL, AND AS IN ANCIENT TIMES, AS CALLED FOR BY GOD, ALL MONEY, ALL GAIN, AND ALL LOSES WERE WIPED OUT WHEN OUR GOVERNMENT REFUSED TO BUY OUT, OR STAND BEHIND, THOSE STOCK TRADING COMPANIES WHICH WERE SO DEEPLY IN DEBT THAT THEY COULD NO LONGER FIND FUNDS TO BAIL THEMSELVES OUT. NO LONGER WERE THEY STRONG ENOUGH TO REBEL AGAINST GOD AND SAY "WE SHALL TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN PROBLEMS; THEREFORE, WE DO NOT NEED YOU GOD" INSTEAD NEITHER THE GOOD NOR THE BAD WAY WAS CHOSEN BY THEM. OUR GOVERNMENT, STILL IN REBELLION DID NOT TURN TO GOD EITHER, BUT SAID "WE, THE GOVERNING POWER BEHIND THESE PEOPLE, WILL CHOSE FOR THEM." AS YOU MIGHT GUESS, GIVEN THE DOWNWARD HURTLING EVENTS OF THE TIME AND THE REFUSAL TO SEEK GOD'S WISDOM, THEY CHOSE POORLY.
WITHOUT REPENTENCE, THERE IS ONLY A YEAR REMAINING UNTIL ANOTHER JUDGEMENT FROM GOD WILL FALL UPON THE UNITED STATES. AS THE BIBLE STATES, AND AS WE CAN SEE FROM DANTE'S INSIGHTS INTO HELL: "THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN!"
VIRGIL AND DANTE REACH ACHERON, THE SHORESOF HELL, WHEN IN A BOAT ROWED BY CHARON, THE TWO WILL CROSS OVER TO THE WORLD OF THE DEAD......
PLEASE DO NOT VOTE....VIEWPOINT AS YET INCOMPLETE