Dante's depictions of hell and its grotesque punishments found their ideal match in the hands of the eminent nineteenth-century illustrator Gustave Doré. Unable to find a sponsor, the artist published his stunning engravings for The Inferno at his own expense. An instant and enduring success, Doré's images made a lasting impression on the public imagination. This volume's enchanting translation and unforgettable illustrations offer readers a perfect blend of literary and artistic skill.
Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise—the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.
Now, for the first time, John Ciardi’s brilliant and authoritative translations of Dante’s three soaring canticles—The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso—have been gathered together in a single volume. Crystallizing the power and beauty inherent in the great poet’s immortal conception of the aspiring soul, The Divine Comedy is a dazzling work of sublime truth and mystical intensity.
One of the world’s transcendent literary masterpieces, the Inferno tells the timeless story of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of hell, guided by the poet Virgil, when in midlife he strays from his path in a dark wood. In this vivid verse translation into contemporary English, Peter Thornton makes the classic work fresh again for a new generation of readers. Recognizing that the Inferno was, for Dante and his peers, not simply an allegory but the most realistic work of fiction to date, he points out that hell was a lot like Italy of Dante's time. Thornton's translation captures the individuals represented, landscapes, and psychological immediacy of the dialogues as well as Dante's poetic effects.
The product of decades of passionate dedication and research, his translation has been hailed by the leading Dante scholars on both sides of the Atlantic as exceptional in its accuracy, spontaneity, and vividness. Those qualities and its detailed notes explaining Dante's world and references make it both accessible for individual readers and perfect for class adoption.
Upon their approach to Paradise, which as a pagan, no matter how worthy, the Latin poet cannot enter, Virgil relinquishes his role as guide to Beatrice. Dante's chaste beloved then accompanies him along the ascent, as they encounter the blessed and the holy, and Dante arrives at a vision of the heavenly paradise.
The first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy is many things: a moving human drama, a supreme expression of the Middle Ages, a glorification of the ways of God, and a magnificent protest against the ways in which men have thwarted the divine plan. One of the few literary works that has enjoyed a fame both immediate and enduring, The Inferno remains powerful after seven centuries. It confronts the most universal values—good and evil, free will and predestination—while remaining intensely personal and ferociously political, for it was born out of the anguish of a man who saw human life blighted by the injustice and corruption of his times.
Translated by John Ciardi
With an Introduction by Archibald T. MacAllister
and an Afterword by Edward M. Cifelli
Blake Ritson, David Warner, Hattie Morahan and John Hurt star in this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Dante's epic poem.
Inferno: Thirty-five year old Dante finds himself in the middle of a dark wood, in extreme personal and spiritual crisis. Hope of rescue appears in the form of the venerable poet Virgil, now a shade himself, who offers to lead Dante on an odyssey through the afterlife, beginning in the terrifying depths of Hell.
Purgatorio: Dante is led up Mount Purgatory by his guide. They encounter numerous souls who have embarked on the same difficult journey - one that will eventually lead to their spiritual salvation.
Paradiso: Dante's journey comes to a glorious conclusion as he is led by Beatrice, through the spheres of Paradise and into the presence of God himself. As they ascend, they encounter a number of souls who have also achieved blessedness.
Many years later, the older Dante reflects on the episodes from his life that have inspired his great poem.
Canto XXI (The Lawyers) (detail), 1992. Michael Mazur, 1935-2009. © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.