Inferno by DanteInferno by Dante

Inferno

byDanteTranslated byAllen Mandelbaum

Mass Market Paperback | January 1, 1982

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In this superb translation with an introduction and commentary by Allen Mandelbaum, all of Dante's vivid images--the earthly, sublime, intellectual, demonic, ecstatic--are rendered with marvelous clarity to read like the words of a poet born in our own age.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence, Italy in 1265. His early poetry falls into the tradition of love poetry that passed from the Provencal to such Italian poets as Guido Cavalcanti, Dante's friend and mentor. Dante's first major work is the Vita Nuova, 1293-1294. This sequence of lyrics, sonnets, and prose narrative describes his lov...
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Title:InfernoFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 6.85 × 4.17 × 0.94 inPublished:January 1, 1982Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553213393

ISBN - 13:9780553213393

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Customer Reviews of Inferno

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic A beautifully written story, very poetic.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read classic Inferno is an exciting, sometimes funny, and extremely dark story that takes you through hell and back... literally. Allen Mandelbaum's translation is excellent and doesn't take anything away from the original poem. The notes are also very helpful and easy to read.
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very weird! Interesting, but disturbing!
Date published: 2017-01-27

Read from the Book

CANTO INel mezzo del cammin di nostra vitami ritrovai per una selva oscura,che la diritta via era smarrita.Ahi quanto a dir qual era e cosa dura4esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forteche nel pensier rinova la paura!Tant' e amara che poco e piu morte;7ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai,diro de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.Io non so ben ridir com' i' v'intrai,10tant' era pien di sonno a quel puntoche la verace via abbandonai.Ma poi ch'i' fui al pie d'un colle giunto,13la dove terminava quella valleche m'avea di paura il cor compunto,guardai in alto e vidi le sue spalle16vestite gia de' raggi del pianetache mena dritto altrui per ogne calle.Allor fu la paura un poco queta,19che nel lago del cor m'era duratala notte ch'i' passai con tanta pieta.E come quei che con lena affannata,22uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata,cosi l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,25si volse a retro a rimirar lo passoche non lascio gia mai persona viva.Poi ch'ei posato un poco il corpo lasso,28ripresi via per la piaggia diserta,si che 'l pie fermo sempre era 'l piu basso.The voyager-narrator astray by night in a dark forest. Morning and the sunlit hill. Three beasts that impede his ascent. The encounter with Virgil, who offers his guidance and an alternative path through two of the three realms the voyager must visit.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.Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,4that savage forest, dense and difficult,which even in recall renews my fear:so bitter--death is hardly more severe!7But to retell the good discovered there,I'll also tell the other things I saw.I cannot clearly say how I had entered10the wood; I was so full of sleep just atthe point where I abandoned the true path.But when I'd reached the bottom of a hill--13it rose along the boundary of the valleythat had harassed my heart with so much fear--I looked on high and saw its shoulders clothed16already by the rays of that same planetwhich serves to lead men straight along all roads.At this my fear was somewhat quieted;19for through the night of sorrow I had spent,the lake within my heart felt terror present.And just as he who, with exhausted breath,22having escaped from sea to shore, turns backto watch the dangerous waters he has quit,so did my spirit, still a fugitive,25turn back to look intently at the passthat never has let any man survive.I let my tired body rest awhile.28Moving again, I tried the lonely slope--my firm foot always was the one below.Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar de l'erta,31una lonza leggiera e presta molto,che di pel macolato era coverta;e non mi si partia dinanzi al volto,34anzi 'mpediva tanto il mio cammino,ch'i' fui per ritornar piu volte volto.Temp' era dal principio del mattino,37e 'l sol montava 'n su con quelle stellech'eran con lui quando l'amor divinomosse di prima quelle cose belle;40si ch'a bene sperar m'era cagionedi quella fiera a la gaetta pellel'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione;43ma non si che paura non mi dessela vista che m'apparve d'un leone.Questi parea che contra me venisse46con la test' alta e con rabbiosa fame,si che parea che l'aere ne tremesse.Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame49sembiava carca ne la sua magrezza,e molte genti fe gia viver grame,questa mi porse tanto di gravezza52con la paura ch'uscia di sua vista,ch'io perdei la speranza de l'altezza.E qual e quei che volontieri acquista,55e giugne 'l tempo che perder lo face,che 'n tutti suoi pensier piange e s'attrista;tal mi fece la bestia sanza pace,58che, venendomi 'ncontro, a poco a pocomi ripigneva la dove 'l sol tace.Mentre ch'i' rovinava in basso loco,61dinanzi a li occhi mi si fu offertochi per lungo silenzio parea fioco.Quando vidi costui nel gran diserto,64"Miserere di me," gridai a lui,"qual che tu sii, od ombra od omo certo!"Rispuosemi: "Non omo, omo gia fui,67e li parenti miei furon lombardi,mantoani per patria ambedui.And almost where the hillside starts to rise--31look there!--a leopard, very quick and lithe,a leopard covered with a spotted hide.He did not disappear from sight, but stayed;34indeed, he so impeded my ascentthat I had often to turn back again.The time was the beginning of the morning;37the sun was rising now in fellowshipwith the same stars that had escorted itwhen Divine Love first moved those things of beauty;40so that the hour and the gentle seasongave me good cause for hopefulness on seeingthat beast before me with his speckled skin;43but hope was hardly able to preventthe fear I felt when I beheld a lion.His head held high and ravenous with hunger--46even the air around him seemed to shudder--this lion seemed to make his way against me.And then a she-wolf showed herself; she seemed49to carry every craving in her leanness;she had already brought despair to many.The very sight of her so weighted me52with fearfulness that I abandoned hopeof ever climbing up that mountain slope.Even as he who glories while he gains55will, when the time has come to tally loss,lament with every thought and turn despondent,so was I when I faced that restless beast,58which, even as she stalked me, step by stephad thrust me back to where the sun is speechless.While I retreated down to lower ground,61before my eyes there suddenly appearedone who seemed faint because of the long silence.When I saw him in that vast wilderness,64"Have pity on me," were the words I cried,"whatever you may be--a shade, a man."He answered me: "Not man; I once was man.67Both of my parents came from Lombardy,and both claimed Mantua as native city.Nacqui sub Iulio, ancor che fosse tardi,70e vissi a Roma sotto 'l buono Augustonel tempo de li dei falsi e bugiardi.Poeta fui, e cantai di quel giusto73figliuol d'Anchise che venne di Troia,poi che 'l superbo Ilion fu combusto.Ma tu perche ritorni a tanta noia?76perche non sali il dilettoso montech'e principio e cagion di tutta gioia?""Or se' tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte79che spandi di parlar si largo fiume?"rispuos' io lui con vergognosa fronte."O de li altri poeti onore e lume,82vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amoreche m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore,85tu se' solo colui da cu' io tolsilo bello stilo che m'ha fatto onore.Vedi la bestia per cu' io mi volsi;88aiutami da lei, famoso saggio,ch'ella mi fa tremar le vene e i polsi.""A te convien tenere altro viaggio,"91rispuose, poi che lagrimar mi vide,"se vuo' campar d'esto loco selvaggio;che questa bestia, per la qual tu gride,94non lascia altrui passar per la sua via,ma tanto lo 'mpedisce che l'uccide;e ha natura si malvagia e ria,97che mai non empie la bramosa voglia,e dopo 'l pasto ha piu fame che pria.Molti son li animali a cui s'ammoglia,100e piu saranno ancora, infin che 'l veltroverra, che la fara morir con doglia.Questi non cibera terra ne peltro,103ma sapienza, amore e virtute,e sua nazion sara tra feltro e feltro.Di quella umile Italia fia salute106per cui mori la vergine Cammilla,Eurialo e Turno e Niso di ferute.And I was born, though late, sub Julio,70and lived in Rome under the good Augustus--the season of the false and lying gods.I was a poet, and I sang the righteous73son of Anchises who had come from Troywhen flames destroyed the pride of Ilium.But why do you return to wretchedness?76Why not climb up the mountain of delight,the origin and cause of every joy?""And are you then that Virgil, you the fountain79that freely pours so rich a stream of speech?"I answered him with shame upon my brow."O light and honor of all other poets,82may my long study and the intense lovethat made me search your volume serve me now.You are my master and my author, you--85the only one from whom my writing drewthe noble style for which I have been honored.You see the beast that made me turn aside;88help me, o famous sage, to stand against her,for she has made my blood and pulses shudder.""It is another path that you must take,"91he answered when he saw my tearfulness,"if you would leave this savage wilderness;the beast that is the cause of your outcry94allows no man to pass along her track,but blocks him even to the point of death;her nature is so squalid, so malicious97that she can never sate her greedy will;when she has fed, she's hungrier than ever.She mates with many living souls and shall100yet mate with many more, until the Greyhoundarrives, inflicting painful death on her.That Hound will never feed on land or pewter,103but find his fare in wisdom, love, and virtue;his place of birth shall be between two felts.He will restore low-lying Italy106for which the maid Camilla died of wounds,and Nisus, Turnus, and Euryalus.Questi la caccera per ogne villa,109fin che l'avra rimessa ne lo 'nferno,la onde 'nvidia prima dipartilla.Ond' io per lo tuo me' penso e discerno112che tu mi segui, e io saro tua guida,e trarrotti di qui per loco etterno,ove udirai le disperate strida,115vedrai li antichi spiriti dolenti,ch'a la seconda morte ciascun grida;e vederai color che son contenti118nel foco, perche speran di venirequando che sia a le beate genti.A le quai poi se tu vorrai salire,121anima fia a cio piu di me degna:con lei ti lascero nel mio partire;che quello imperador che la su regna,124perch' i' fu' ribellante a la sua legge,non vuol che 'n sua citta per me si vegna.In tutte parti impera e quivi regge;127quivi e la sua citta e l'alto seggio:oh felice colui cu' ivi elegge!"E io a lui: "Poeta, io ti richeggio130per quello Dio che tu non conoscesti,a cio ch'io fugga questo male e peggio,che tu mi meni la dov' or dicesti,133si ch'io veggia la porta di san Pietroe color cui tu fai cotanto mesti."Allor si mosse, e io li tenni dietro.136And he will hunt that beast through every city109until he thrusts her back again to Hell,from which she was first sent above by envy.Therefore, I think and judge it best for you112to follow me, and I shall guide you, takingyou from this place through an eternal place,where you shall hear the howls of desperation115and see the ancient spirits in their pain,as each of them laments his second death;and you shall see those souls who are content118within the fire, for they hope to reach--whenever that may be--the blessed people.If you would then ascend as high as these,121a soul more worthy than I am will guide you;I'll leave you in her care when I depart,because that Emperor who reigns above,124since I have been rebellious to His law,will not allow me entry to His city.He governs everywhere, but rules from there;127there is His city, His high capital:o happy those He chooses to be there!"And I replied: "O poet--by that God130whom you had never come to know--I beg you,that I may flee this evil and worse evils,to lead me to the place of which you spoke,133that I may see the gateway of Saint Peterand those whom you describe as sorrowful."Then he set out, and I moved on behind him.136CANTO IILo giorno se n'andava, e l'aere brunotoglieva li animai che sono in terrada le fatiche loro; e io sol unom'apparecchiava a sostener la guerra4si del cammino e si de la pietate,che ritrarra la mente che non erra.O Muse, o alto ingegno, or m'aiutate;7o mente che scrivesti cio ch'io vidi,qui si parra la tua nobilitate.Io cominciai: "Poeta che mi guidi,10guarda la mia virtu s'ell' e possente,prima ch'a l'alto passo tu mi fidi.Tu dici che di Silvio il parente,13corruttibile ancora, ad immortalesecolo ando, e fu sensibilmente.Pero, se l'avversario d'ogne male16cortese i fu, pensando l'alto effettoch'uscir dovea di lui, e 'l chi e 'l quale,non pare indegno ad omo d'intelletto;19ch'e' fu de l'alma Roma e di suo imperone l'empireo ciel per padre eletto:la quale e 'l quale, a voler dir lo vero,22fu stabilita per lo loco santou' siede il successor del maggior Piero.Per quest' andata onde li dai tu vanto,25intese cose che furon cagionedi sua vittoria e del papale ammanto.Andovvi poi lo Vas d'elezione,28per recarne conforto a quella fedech'e principio a la via di salvazione.The following evening, Invocation to the Muses. The narrator's questioning of his worthiness to visit the deathless world. Virgil's comforting explanation that he has been sent to help Dante by three Ladies of Heaven. The voyager heartened. Their setting out.The day was now departing; the dark airreleased the living beings of the earthfrom work and weariness; and I myselfalone prepared to undergo the battle4both of the journeying and of the pity,which memory, mistaking not, shall show.O Muses, o high genius, help me now;7o memory that set down what I saw,here shall your excellence reveal itself!I started: "Poet, you who are my guide,10see if the force in me is strong enoughbefore you let me face that rugged pass.You say that he who fathered Sylvius,13while he was still corruptible, had journeyedinto the deathless world with his live body.For, if the Enemy of every evil16was courteous to him, consideringall he would cause and who and what he was,that does not seem incomprehensible,19since in the empyrean heaven he was chosento father honored Rome and her empire;and if the truth be told, Rome and her realm22were destined to become the sacred place,

From Our Editors

Why not throw yourself into the fire? The Inferno, while searing, is one of the most crucial works of poetry to ever hinge itself upon the doorway of literature. Dante's epic is a cataclysmic and satirical ode to the fall of man. Written more than 500 years ago, it needed some practical translation and annotation. Ellio Zapulla steps in with a remarkably faithful interpretation of the classic Italian work that will convey the original spirit of the chilling epic. No students of literature have been versed until they have thrown themselves into this fire.

Editorial Reviews

"An exciting, vivid Inferno by a translator whose scholarship is impeccable."--Chicago magazine"The English Dante of choice."--Hugh Kenner."Exactly what we have waited for these years, a Dante with clarity, eloquence, terror, and profoundly moving depths."--Robert Fagles, Princeton University."Tough and supple, tender and violent . . . vigorous, vernacular . . . Mandelbaum's Dante will stand high among modern translations."--The Christian Science Monitor"Lovers of the English language will be delighted by this eloquently accomplished enterprise."--Book Review Digest

Employee Review

The first volume of this famous classic traces Dante's journey through the nine levels of Hell. This is an excellent read -- well-written, humorous, full of heroes, villains and great descriptive passages. Dante's underworld incorporates classical mythology with Christian theology, and offers interesting observations about the Italian renaissance. A classic book that should be required reading for any book lover. I look forward to reading the next two parts, Purgatory and Paradise.