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Dante: Inferno (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Mar 2006


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Dante: Inferno (Penguin Classics) + Purgatorio (Penguin Classics) + Paradiso - Paradise v. 3: The Divine Comedy  (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (30 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English, Italian
  • ISBN-10: 0954113284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140448955
  • ASIN: 0140448950
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Kirkpatrick brings a more nuanced sense of the Italian and a more mediated appreciation of the poem's construction than nearly all of his competitors. . . . There is much to recommend here-certainly the intelligence, the energy, the linguistic range. . . . His introduction and canto-by-canto notes are remarkably level and lucid, as attentive to structure as to syntax, language and motif, and deftly cross-reference the whole poem. On their own, they would justify the price."-"The Times" (London) "We gain much from Kirkpatrick's fidelity to syntax and nuance, and from the fact that the Italian is on the facing page for our inspection. . . . His introduction . . . tells you, very readably indeed, pretty much all you need for a heightened appreciation of the work. . . . Kirkpatrick edges us, smoothly, into Dante's mind, and shows just how and why his influence has seemed to grow with the passage of time. We even get a map of "trecento" Italy (nestling against a map of hell). . . . If the "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso" are as good as this, then English readers will, I hope, start familiarising themselves with the two-thirds of the work most never get round to reading."-Nicholas Lezard, "The Guardian" "The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism... likely to be the best modern version of Dante.-Bernard O'Donoghue "This version is the first to bring together poetry and scholarship in the very body of the translation-a deeply informed version of Dante that is also a pleasure to read."-Professor David Wallace, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. Considered Italy's greatest poet, this scion of a Florentine family mastered in the art of lyric poetry at an early age. His first major work is La Vita Nuova (1292) which is a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life. Married to Gemma Donatic, Dante's political activism resulted in his being exiled from Florence to eventually settle in Ravenna. It is believed that The Divine Comedy-comprised of three canticles, The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso-was written between 1308 and 1320. Dante Alighieri died in 1321.

Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin, and Cambridge where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.


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Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. A. Day on 12 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
For anyone who may not be familiar with the plot of Dante Aligheri's Inferno, in brief, it involves the narrator's descent, while still alive, into the circles of Hell where he witnesses the grotesque punishments of many people including his own contemporaries, from corrupt popes to soldiers. The book is an allegorical journey of humankind's redemption, at the same time casting a critical glance over the politics of Italy and Florence, all portrayed in beautiful verse.

There is a lot of speculation about the exact reason for this descent into Hell, confusion which results in immediate differences in translation from the very first chapter of the book. So the question for most people would be which book has the best translation?

Well, that depends on what you are looking for. This book does have some wonderful translations; in particular I enjoyed Canto 33. And if you are looking for an edition for studying, line by line, then this is a very good version - the introduction and commentary are worth the price of the book alone, though the notes are in the back of the book which can be a little annoying. This version also has the Italian and English side-by-side, one of the main reasons for me buying it. But, I think, if you are reading it purely for pleasure, I probably prefer the Mark Musa or Robert Hollander versions.

That said, when choosing between the various translations, I would say that it really is down to personal taste; I like aspects of pretty much most translations and I enjoy having various translations available to scrutinise. But I would recommend this to anyone studying Dante's Inferno.
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By steven134 on 9 Mar. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dante is a must. The Divine Comedy is fascinating, incisive and reads like a real adventure.
About this edition:
* Allen Mandelbaum's translation is simply wonderful.
* Top marks for accessibility: The book reads very easily and is very well annotated (some 250 pages of notes)
* This edition is highly practical (it contains all three parts), durable and aesthetically pleasing.
* Contains 42 of Boticelli's 15th century illustrations
Simply great value for money
If you want to get acquainted with this masterpiece then this is the edition to go for!
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Poldy on 13 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dante was an exile in his own time. In his great work, he descends to the underworld where he encounters his poetic hero Virgil who guides him through the circles of Hell, up Mount Purgatory, and to the gates of Paradise, where his role is taken by Dante's vision of the Ideal, Beatrice. In Paradise Dante meets the spirits of the blessed.

This is a magnificent work, considered by some the joint centre of the Western Canon along with Shakespeare. It is peerless among works of literature, offering a lifetime of deep reading. Mandelbaum is to be congratulated on producing a direct, lively, musical translation which leads the eye and the mind ever onward. The presentation is first-rate, pleasing to the eye and hard-wearing, and comes with many of Boticelli's illustrations. I have tried and failed with other translations, but Mandelbaum's is eminently readable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Greekfoodie on 13 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This Clothbound Classic from Penguin is beautifully bound and enjoyable to read. The quality of the paper and the fact that each double page has the Italian and English text displayed, makes this a real treat. The notes on the text offer some insight into the political climate that Dante was writing and give the lay reader an important context for the work to be set against.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Parfitt on 11 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading Dante is never going to be easy. The book is 500 years old, written in a world very different from ours and for a very specific purpose and audience. Considered by many scholars to be the most brilliant book ever, bar none, it has a lot to live up to. And Dante delivers. His incredible knowledge of the classics and contemporary Florence mean you will have to look up many names and references in the notes at the back, and elsewhere -thank the lord for Wikipedia with all its faults. His erudite style and profound subject matter force you to take it slow, and this translation which appears both scholarly and artistic to someone unfamiliar with Italian or Latin has all rthe hallmarks of an almost impossible job well done. So yes, if you want to know why this work is ranked up there with Da Vinci and Michelangelo: take the time to find out. You will not be disappointed as you improve your acquaintance with heaven, hell and purgatory. And this particular edition is well presented, nicely bound and very fairly priced.The Botticelli drawings that are also included deserve better paper but are a welcome extra. For anyone with more than a passing interest in the renaissance, Dante is a must-read, and this edition should provide hard-back enjoyment at a paperback price.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tighe on 14 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Firstly -the physical book: It's hardback, with crisp, clean paper and a bookmark sewn into the spine. Good production.

Secondly -the story: Before boring you with how much I treasure this book (and the epic twin visions of the march of history and life in the afterlife it constructs) I want to look at some of the things that other reviewers might miss.

This book will lead you to other classical works. It is heavily referential i.e. it refers to the works of other writers before Dante, many of them writing thousands of years before Dante wrote. Virgil, Homer, Augustine, Cicero -the author refers to the theories and mythologies laid down by these earlier writers, so that a close read will bring you on a mini-tour of classical and pre-classical writing. Some is scientific, some is mythological, some religious, some historical -the breadth of literature that Dante draws upon to construct his own epic is vast. I found that by the time I had finished, I had resolved to read a half dozen or so other books which I thought would interest me. It has cemented my interest in the classics.

Also, though Dante sets out a very precise blueprint for what the afterlife is like, the state of religion etc.: That does not mean that the reader cannot interact with the story to play with these questions today. Dante's story demands that the reader reflect on the great questions -Dante offers some answers, poses some questions, but most importantly is engaged with the key issues. His vision of the development of the world is at times absurd and parochial, and at other times majestic, but at least he did not back away from the big questions.

Finally, I want to simply state that I find the vast struggle with competing ideas of science, religion, history etc to be a rousing read. This is one man's vision of what underpins the world -it is not mine, it is probably not yours, but it is Dante's answer to the questions we all ask.
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