Belonging in the company of the works of Homer and Virgil, The Inferno is a moving human drama, a journey through the torment of Hell, an expression of the Middle Ages, and a protest against the ways in which men have thwarted the divine plan.
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.
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Very Difficult to Know How to Review this Classic
I first downloaded a free Inferno without knowing who translated it. It turnout that the translation had been done by H. W. Longfellow, and was very difficult to enjoy. I remembered reading the Chiardi translation in college so I bought this version. Indeed, Chiardi's translation is wonderful and the Inferno a fabulous and influential work. I like Chiardi,s introductions to each Canto & his footnotes following each Canto as well. The typographical errors are ludicrous, however. Some words make no sense and very frequently words ending in "l" end with a capital "L" for some unknown reason. For instance, "HelL." Other randomly selected howlers--yourg for your, one becomes onel, she becomes obe, wanton becomes warton, and fire becomes firel. Then there is "divine paternity of Chritt.". No exaggeration, there are hundreds of these errors. These translations need to be plain as to who the translator is before one is able to choose a book and the terrible typos tarnish a wonderful thing.
Allowing only the introduction to be read in the sample is not going to entice anyone to purchase this book, given that the preface has next to nothing to do with the main story.
This book is great! I'm not surprised since it is written by the GREAT poet Dante. Buy it, it's totally worth it!!!:)