The Divine Comedy

Volume 1: Inferno

Introduction by Robin Kirkpatrick
Translated by Robin Kirkpatrick
Commentaries by Robin Kirkpatrick
The first part of Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, revealing the eternal punishment reserved for such sins as greed, self-deception, political double-dealing and treachery

Describing Dante's descent into Hell midway through his life with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls including the pagan Aeneas, the liar Odysseus, the suicide Cleopatra, and his own political enemies, damned for their deceit. Led by leering demons, the poet must ultimately journey with Virgil to the deepest level of all. Portraying a huge diversity of characters culminating in a horrific vision of Satan, the Inferno broke new ground in the vigour of its language and storytelling. It has had a particular influence on Modernist writers and their successors throughout the world. Printed in English with facing pages in Dante's Italian, this edition offers commentaries and notes on each canto by Robert Kirkpatrick.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), Italy’s greatest poet, was born in Florence and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. He first met Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice, in 1274; she inspired his most famous poetry, including the Vita Nuova, which he wrote to console himself when she died in 1290, and The Divine Comedy, which he began seventeen years after her death. View titles by Dante Alighieri
“A masterly translation.” ―Judith Thurman, The New Yorker

“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

“Likely to be the best modern version of Dante . . . The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism.” —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.” —David Wallace, University of Pennsylvania

About

The first part of Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, revealing the eternal punishment reserved for such sins as greed, self-deception, political double-dealing and treachery

Describing Dante's descent into Hell midway through his life with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls including the pagan Aeneas, the liar Odysseus, the suicide Cleopatra, and his own political enemies, damned for their deceit. Led by leering demons, the poet must ultimately journey with Virgil to the deepest level of all. Portraying a huge diversity of characters culminating in a horrific vision of Satan, the Inferno broke new ground in the vigour of its language and storytelling. It has had a particular influence on Modernist writers and their successors throughout the world. Printed in English with facing pages in Dante's Italian, this edition offers commentaries and notes on each canto by Robert Kirkpatrick.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author

Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), Italy’s greatest poet, was born in Florence and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. He first met Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice, in 1274; she inspired his most famous poetry, including the Vita Nuova, which he wrote to console himself when she died in 1290, and The Divine Comedy, which he began seventeen years after her death. View titles by Dante Alighieri

Praise

“A masterly translation.” ―Judith Thurman, The New Yorker

“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

“Likely to be the best modern version of Dante . . . The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism.” —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.” —David Wallace, University of Pennsylvania

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