Cover image for The inferno
The inferno
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Inferno. English
Publication Information:
New York : Barnes & Noble, [2003]

Physical Description:
302 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
The first part of Dante's classic poem of faith follows the author with his guide Virgil through the circles of hell, describing the sinners and punishments witnessed there.
The world of Dante and the Inferno -- The story of the Inferno in brief -- Introduction -- Map of hell -- The Inferno -- Endnotes -- Six sonnets by Longfellow -- Inspired by the Inferno -- Comments and questions -- For further reading.

Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ4315.2 .L65 2003C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PQ4315.2 .L65 2003C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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&&LDIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LI&&RThe Inferno&&L/I&&R, by &&LB&&RDante Alighieri&&L/B&&R, is part of the &&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics&&L/I&&R &&LI&&R &&L/I&&Rseries, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of &&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics&&L/I&&R: &&LDIV&&R New introductions commissioned from today''s top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader''s viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. &&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics &&L/I&&Rpulls together a constellation of influences--biographical, historical, and literary--to enrich each reader''s understanding of these enduring works.&&L/DIV&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LI&&R&&L/I&&R &&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LI&&RThe Inferno&&L/I&&R remains literature''s most hallowed and graphic vision of Hell. Dante plunges readers into this unforgettable world with a deceptively simple--and now legendary--tercet:&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&RMidway upon the journey of our life&&LBR&&RI found myself within a forest dark&&LBR&&RFor the straightforward pathway had been lost.&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&RWith these words, Dante plunges readers into the unforgettable world of the Inferno--one of the most graphic visions of Hell ever created. In this first part of the epic &&LI&&RThe Divine Comedy&&L/I&&R, Dante is led by the poet Virgil down into the nine circles of Hell, where he travels through nightmare landscapes of fetid cesspools, viper pits, frozen lakes, and boiling rivers of blood and witnesses sinners being beaten, burned, eaten, defecated upon, and torn to pieces by demons. Along the way he meets the most fascinating characters known to the classical and medieval world--the silver-tongued Ulysses, lustful Francesca da Rimini, the heretical Farinata degli Uberti, and scores of other intriguing and notorious figures.&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&RThis edition of the &&LI&&RInferno&&L/I&&R revives the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translation, which first introduced Dante''s literary genius to a broad American audience. "Opening the book we stand face to face with the poet," wrote William Dean Howells of Longfellow''s Dante, "and when his voice ceases we may marvel if he has not sung to us in his own Tuscan." Lyrically graceful and brimming with startlingly vivid images, Dante''s Inferno is a perpetually engrossing classic that ranks with the greatest works of Homer and Shakespeare.&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&R&&LB&&RFeatures a map of Hell and illustrations by Gustave Doré.&&L/B&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LSTRONG&&R&&L/B&&R &&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LP style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"&&R&&LSTRONG&&RPeter Bondanella&&L/B&&R&&L/B&&R is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian at Indiana University and a past president of the American Association for Italian Studies. His publications include a number of translations of Italian classics, books on Italian Renaissance literature and Italian cinema, and a dictionary of Italian literature. &&L/P&&R&&L/DIV&&R

Author Notes

Born Dante Alighieri in the spring of 1265 in Florence, Italy, he was known familiarly as Dante. His family was noble, but not wealthy, and Dante received the education accorded to gentlemen, studying poetry, philosophy, and theology.

His first major work was Il Vita Nuova, The New Life. This brief collection of 31 poems, held together by a narrative sequence, celebrates the virtue and honor of Beatrice, Dante's ideal of beauty and purity. Beatrice was modeled after Bice di Folco Portinari, a beautiful woman Dante had met when he was nine years old and had worshipped from afar in spite of his own arranged marriage to Gemma Donati. Il Vita Nuova has a secure place in literary history: its vernacular language and mix of poetry with prose were new; and it serves as an introduction to Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, in which Beatrice figures prominently.

The Divine Comedy is Dante's vision of the afterlife, broken into a trilogy of the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Dante is given a guided tour of hell and purgatory by Virgil, the pagan Roman poet whom Dante greatly admired and imitated, and of heaven by Beatrice. The Inferno shows the souls who have been condemned to eternal torment, and included here are not only mythical and historical evil-doers, but Dante's enemies. The Purgatory reveals how souls who are not irreversibly sinful learn to be good through a spiritual purification. And The Paradise depicts further development of the just as they approach God. The Divine Comedy has been influential from Dante's day into modern times. The poem has endured not just because of its beauty and significance, but also because of its richness and piety as well as its occasionally humorous and vulgar treatment of the afterlife.

In addition to his writing, Dante was active in politics. In 1302, after two years as a priore, or governor of Florence, he was exiled because of his support for the white guelfi, a moderate political party of which he was a member. After extensive travels, he stayed in Ravenna in 1319, completing The Divine Comedy there, until his death in 1321.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

A veteran translator of Lucretius and Tasso, Esolen ornaments his dual-language edition with Dor illustrations, some rhyme and blank verse-and the results hold their own among the many underworld competitors: "Midway upon the journey of our life/ I found myself in a dark wilderness,/ for I had wandered from the straight and true." A number of texts crucial to Dante, and some by him, appear in appendices; a fulsome section of notes is also included. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Inferno is the first of the three books of The Divine Comedy being freshly translated by the Hollanders, with Purgatorio and Paradiso scheduled for release in 2002. This edition offers their interpretation on the right-hand page with Dante's original Italian text on the left. Robert Hollander has a very esteemed reputation as a translator of Dante and others, so this no doubt would be a worthy addition to literature collections already possessing previous versions. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Adding to the list of recent translations of Dante's Inferno--by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander (CH, Jun'01, 38-5477), Robert Durling and Ronald Martinez (CH, Oct'96, 34-0810), and several others--this version by classicist Stanley Lombardo (Univ. of Kansas) offers an attractive new alternative as both a translation and a pedagogical tool. The volume includes an excellent introduction by Dante scholar Steven Botterill (Univ. of California, Berkeley), clear and informative notes by lifelong Dantist Anthony Oldcorn, a concise bibliographical note that indicates some important sources on Dante in print and online, and a diagram of Hell; "Index of the Damned" lists characters who appear in the canticle. The translator's preface explains Lombardo's choices as he faced the always-challenging task of rendering Dante's poetry into English. Among the most interesting choices are the occasional use of rhyme--especially in key passages and at the end of each canto, where interlocking rhymes that mimic Dante's terza rima are consistently employed--and an emphasis on creating a version that works well as an oral presentation, following the long tradition of private, public, and theatrical readings of the poem. The volume includes the original Italian text, thus facilitating classroom references and comparisons. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, general readers. R. West University of Chicago



From Peter Bondanella's Introduction to The Inferno Church doctrine in Dante's time (as today) holds that Hell's function is to punish for eternity human souls who died in mortal sin without a sincere confession of their faults that expresses repentance for their misdeeds. These miscreants do not qualify for the purifying punishments of Purgatory, where souls who do not die in mortal sin escape eternal damnation and suffer temporary expiation before receiving their blissful reward in Paradise. When Dante began his poem, he was certainly aware of biblical and classical views of the afterlife. In the Sheol of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Hades of classical antiquity, souls after death did not really receive retribution for their earthly sins or particularly attractive rewards for their earthly merits. But the Christian church, affirmed by the theology of such major writers as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, conceived of Hell as a place where the good were separated from the evil, and deeds on earth were weighted and judged. Dante's famous notice over the gate of Hell underlines the eternity of Hell's punishment ("All hope abandon, ye who enter in!"), but it is also clear from a reading of the entire poem that Dante considers the greatest punishment possible to be not the incredibly original and grotesque physical punishments he invents for his work but, instead, the eternal loss of communion with God that is enjoyed by the blessed. Dante's poetic genius partly resides in his many ingenious inventions for the shape and character of Hell. Dante's Inferno is a hollow cone shaped by the displaced territory after Lucifer's expulsion from Heaven and fall to Earth. It is situated under Jerusalem and consists of nine concentric circles that grow ever smaller and house more and more evil sinners. Ultimately, Hell ends at Earth's core, where Lucifer is imprisoned in ice. Contrary to popular opinion, fire and brimstone are not the typical infernal punishments, although they are present. The place is filled with a number of rivers, swamps, deserts, a burning plain, a huge waterfall, a frozen lake, the towers of the City of Dis, and the ditches and bridges of Malebolge (ten sections of a circle shaped like ditches, pouches, or purses). Because the science of Dante's day followed the Ptolemaic system of the universe in astronomy and Aristotle's teachings on physics and biology, Dante considered Hell to be in the center of Earth, which in turn was in the center of the universe, with the sun revolving around it. A great chain of being extended from gross matter, animals, and humanity to the nine orders of the angels, and then to God in the Empyrean Heaven. Dante's Inferno generally reflects traditional medieval thinking on astronomy and science, but the poet is also capable of enriching this tradition with his own ideas to enliven his picture of the Other World. The most important rule in the Inferno , as well as in Purgatory and Paradise , is that Dante makes the rules. Laws can be broken or twisted to suit his poetic purposes, but they are always his alone. Such inventive details, often created by the author out of whole cloth, provide the reader with a rich, textured world of real individuals and a universe with its own specifically Dantesque regulations and customs. In many respects, Dante's Inferno is not an unfamiliar place. Its most interesting inhabitants are not classical monsters, mythological figures, or heroes but instead are contemporary Italians, figures from all over the peninsula. It is an all too human world that we all immediately recognize as the one in which we live. Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that Hell is other people. Dante would have said: "We have met the damned, and they are we." Apart from all of the entertaining and ingenious "house rules" in Hell that Dante invented, one of the great intellectual achievements of Dante's Inferno as a work of art is its original synthesis of the Christian and the classical worlds in Hell's organization. For example, the idea of a visit to the Underworld was suggested to Dante by the obvious example of Virgil's Aeneid . Since Virgil had been to Hell before, who else would be more qualified to guide an Italian poet who loved Virgil's epic work on another journey through the same territory? Numerous specific physical punishments in Hell require guardians or bureaucrats (not to mention torturers enjoying their work), just as a prison requires jailors and executioners. Thus Dante employs a wide variety of classical figures to serve in this capacity, including Charon, Minos, and the centaurs. The rivers of Hell are those of classical antiquity (such as Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, and Lethe). Numerous classical figures, such as Alexander the Great, Brutus, Cassius, and Ulysses, appear in the various circles in which they suffer eternal damnation along with Dante's contemporaries. No more heuristic juxtaposition of ancient and modern, classical and contemporary, will occur in Western literature until the sixteenth-century appearance of The Prince and the Discourses on Livy , two books by Niccolò Machiavelli that effect a similar synthesis by founding a new realistic view of politics upon comparative analyses of ancient Romans and contemporary Italy or Europe. Excerpted from The Inferno by Dante All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.