Inferno by Dante Alighieri
A New Translation

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Dante’s Inferno will continue to be a presence in the 21st century. Now thanks to Mary Jo Bang’s updated, humorous, and lively translation people may actually want to read it. Dante himself would probably applaud.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

An innovative and fascinating new version of Dante Alighieri's Inferno as it has never been rendered

Stopped mid-motion in the middle
Of what we call a life, I looked up and saw no sky-
Only a dense cage of leaf, tree, and twig. I was lost.
--from Canto I

Award-winning poet Mary Jo Bang has translated the Inferno into English at a moment when popular culture is so prevalent that it has even taken Dante, author of the fourteenth century epic poem, The Divine Comedy, and turned him into an action-adventure video game hero. Dante, a master of innovation, wrote his poem in the vernacular, rather than in literary Latin. Bang has similarly created an idiomatically rich contemporary version that is accessible, musical, and audacious. She's matched Dante's own liberal use of allusion and literary borrowing by incorporating literary and cultural references familiar to contemporary readers: Shakespeare and Dickinson, Freud and South Park, Kierkegaard and Stephen Colbert. The Inferno--the allegorical story of a spiritual quest that begins in a dark forest, traverses Hell's nine circles, and ends at the hopeful edge of purgatory--was also an indictment of religious hypocrisy and political corruption. In its time, the poem was stunningly new. Bang's version is true to the original: lyrical, politically astute, occasionally self-mocking, and deeply moving. With haunting illustrations by Henrik Drescher, this is the most readable Inferno available in English, a truly remarkable achievement.

 

About Dante Alighieri

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Dante Alighieri (c.1265-1321) is the author of The Divine Comedy, a masterpiece of world literature. Mary Jo Bang is the author of six books of poetry, including Elegy, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
 
Published August 7, 2012 by Graywolf Press. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Jeremy McGuire on Aug 07 2012

Dante’s Inferno will continue to be a presence in the 21st century. Now thanks to Mary Jo Bang’s updated, humorous, and lively translation people may actually want to read it. Dante himself would probably applaud.

Read Full Review of Inferno: A New Translation | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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