Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Inferno

Guided by the poet Virgil, Dante plunges to the very depths of Hell and embarks on his arduous journey towards God. Together they descend through the twenty-four circles of the underworld and encounter the tormented souls of the damned - from heretics and pagans to gluttons, criminals and seducers - who tell of their sad fates and predict events still to come in Dante's li...

Title:Inferno
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0812970063
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:490 pages

Inferno Reviews

  • Bill  Kerwin
    Jun 30, 2007

    An excellent translation--even better than John Ciardi. Like Ciardi, Pinsky is a real poet and makes Dante the poet come alive. His verse has muscularity and force, and his decision to use half-rhyme is an excellent one, since it allows us to attend to the narrative undistracted.

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    Sep 09, 2008

    THIS BOOK IS ABOUT HOW HELL IS GONNA SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

  • Manny
    Nov 27, 2008

    The other day, in the comment thread to

    , Meredith called

    "lame": specifically, she objected to the fact that Dante put all the people he didn't like in Hell. Well, Meredith, you're perfectly welcome to your opinions - but I'm half Italian, and I've been politely informed that if I don't respond in some way I'm likely to wake up some morning and find a horse's head lying next to me. So here goes.

    I actually have two separate defenses. First, let's conside

    The other day, in the comment thread to

    , Meredith called

    "lame": specifically, she objected to the fact that Dante put all the people he didn't like in Hell. Well, Meredith, you're perfectly welcome to your opinions - but I'm half Italian, and I've been politely informed that if I don't respond in some way I'm likely to wake up some morning and find a horse's head lying next to me. So here goes.

    I actually have two separate defenses. First, let's consider Dante's artistic choices, given that he's planned to write a huge epic poem where he's going to visit Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, each of which is divided up into a large number of smaller areas corresponding to differents sins and virtues. Now, who is he going to meet there? One option would be to have allegorical figures directly representing Pride, Wrath, Charity etc. That's what Bunyan did in

    , but most people agree that it's not a very good solution:

    is much more fun than

    . Or he could just make people up, but then he wouldn't have any space for character development, and you'd never be able to keep track of all the invented figures. Lindsay tried that route in

    , and, even though the book's worth reading, he showed how hard it is to make it work. Every time someone interesting turns up, they always seem to get killed fifteen pages later.

    I think the choice Dante made was the best one: to use real people. Of course, it is a bit presumptuous to decide that the ones going to Hell are mostly guys he doesn't like, but nothing else makes sense. If you want damned souls to populate the Hell of the Hypocrites, isn't Caiaphas, the high priest who falsely condemned Jesus, a sensible choice? If you're looking for Traitors to Lords and Benefactors, then don't Brutus and Cassius fit pretty well? And every now and then he meets his friends down there too. His beloved teacher Brunetto Latini is damned for sodomy, which shocks Dante just as much as it does me, but in his world-view it makes perfect sense; homosexuality is plain wrong, that's all there is to it.

    Okay, that was my first defense. My second is that it's far too simplistic to say that Dante is self-righteously damning all his enemies and extolling his own virtues. The theme that continually comes back through the first two books is that Pride is the root of all sin, and Dante is very conscious of his own sinful nature. For example, he's way too happy to gloat over the fact that his enemy Filippo Argenti has been condemned to the Hell of the Wrathful, and Virgil gently points out the irony. Then, later, he has to spend the whole of Book 2 climbing up Mount Purgatory, which is hard work. He's got plenty of sins to purge.

    To me, the real problem with Dante is that his world is so very different from mine, and I keep having to scramble to the footnotes to get the necessary background; so it's hard to keep the flow of the book, since you're constantly being interrupted. But even so, it's still a remarkable piece of work. We just don't think seriously any more about the nature of Good and Evil, Sin and Redemption. Dante's world thought they were crucially important, and he's one of the few people who's still able to give us a window into that view of life. It's nowhere near as irrelevant as we like to make out.

    Don Corleone, will this do? Or do I have to add footnotes as well?

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    Sep 17, 2010

    I just want to start off by saying that "Through me you enter into the City of Woes" would make an EXCELLENT tramp stamp. Jump on it!

    Being that I am an atheist living in the "Bible Belt," I was certain that reading this would lead to some sort of goodreads tirade, which can at times feel about as good as vomiting up a sour stomach or...you know...doing other stuff

    that ladies don't do. However, I was from the outset hypnotized by Dante's très Baudelaire-esque-grotesque imagery and over

    I just want to start off by saying that "Through me you enter into the City of Woes" would make an EXCELLENT tramp stamp. Jump on it!

    Being that I am an atheist living in the "Bible Belt," I was certain that reading this would lead to some sort of goodreads tirade, which can at times feel about as good as vomiting up a sour stomach or...you know...doing other stuff

    that ladies don't do. However, I was from the outset hypnotized by Dante's très Baudelaire-esque-grotesque imagery and overall style. For such a holy shitfuck, he had quite the murky mind. He was dreaming up torture scenarios that wouldn't even BEGIN to be trumped until Gilles de Rais and Vlad Tepes came around, like, a

    later. And don't be surprised if he zaps you with the occasional rotting pustule or maggot-infested knife wound. These aren't literal examples, but they illustrate just how THE OPPOSITE OF FLOWERY some of his language is. So I went into reading this with a huge wall up (I know, I know, a terrible way to read), but then I realized that I wasn't JUST going to be proselytized to...I was going to be threatened with nasty, rotting, coldsore-herpee-mange-pits all over my body that George W. Bush and Paris Hilton are going to take turns pouring their boiling-hot-diarrhea-snot into. Dante, you sick bastard! AWESOME!!!

    So onward I galloped, discerning through all the filthy language that:

    A) I am, in fact, going to hell.

    B) They will have trouble determining the circle I will end up in because I could be placed in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM save maybe, like, one or two (I stopped counting after awhile).

    C) The Dalai Lama, too, is going to hell.*

    *In fact, the "higher-ups" are apparently so sadistic, they sent people to hell who had lived morally just lives but were BORN BEFORE THE COMING OF CHRIST! He'll punish you for not worshiping Him before you even know who He is!!! If there was ever a better use for "WTF?", I don't know what it is. That's like your mom smacking you in the mouth for getting pregnant while you're still a virgin, or like wanting to ban a book that you haven't even seen in real life yet! That means that every intelligent being for the first few BILLIONS OF YEARS is in hell RIGHT NOW! ALL OF 'EM!!! Every evolutionary step forward up to the first Homosapien Christian is a batch of poor bastards that has been ferried across the River Styx.

    I mean seriously...even Moses and Noah were in hell until Jesus came through with the VIP passes. Apparently, the wholly omniscient creator forgot to put them on the guest list. Ain't that some shit?

    One specific gripe about the story...I'm not digging this whole "emasculated devil" thing. I mean, wallowing in your own filth freezing your ass off with bitch-tears in your eyes at all times? This is the malevolent force that the Christians live in constant fear of,

    ? It's a non-stop temptation to be like HIM? Come on, everybody knows the devil is confusingly sexy and he likes to smoke fancy cigars and drink brandy and wear fine suits and tell hilarious jokes. How else is he supposed to charm us away from the true path? Keep up, Dante...sheesh.

    Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. THE END!

    Oh, and if you hated this review, I have a back-up review BELOW:

    (aka "The Inferno")

    by Lil' J.C.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    C'mon man

    [News Report]

    And with the local DBT news, J to the motherfuckin' C with a triumphant comeback

    but tonite...

    [JC]

    Don't call it a comeback

    I been here for years

    Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear

    Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon

    Listen to the bass go BOOM

    Explosion, overpowerin

    Over the competition, I'm towerin

    Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that'll make you call the cops

    Don't you dare stare, you betta move

    Don't ever compare

    Me to the rest that'll all get sliced and diced

    Competition's payin the price

    [Chorus:]

    I'm gonna knock you out (HUUUH!!!)

    Papa said knock you out (HUUUH!!!)

    [REPEAT 4X]

    Don't u call this a regular jam

    I'm gonna rock this land

    I'm gonna take this itty bitty world by storm

    And I'm just gettin warm

    Just like Muhummad Ali they called him Cassius

    Watch me bash this beat like a skull

    Cuz u know I had beef wit

    Why do u riff with me, the maniac psycho

    And when I pull out my jammy get ready cuz it might go

    BLAAAAW, how ya like me now?

    The river will not allow

    U to get with, Mr. Smith, dont riff

    Listen to my gear shift

    I'm blastin, outlastin

    Kinda like Shaft, so u could say I'm shaftin

    Old English filled my mind

    And I came up with a funky rhyme

    [Chorus]

    [JC]

    Breakdown!!!

    Shadow boxin when I heard you on the radio (HUUUH!!!)

    I just don't know

    What made you forget that I was raw?

    But now I got a new tour

    I'm goin insane, startin the hurricane, releasin pain

    Lettin you know that you can't gain, I maintain

    Unless ya say my name

    Rippin, killin

    Diggin and drillin a hole

    Pass the Ol' Gold

    [Chorus]

    Shotgun blasts are heard

    When I rip and kill, at WILL

    The man of the hour, tower of power, I'll devour

    I'm gonna tie you up and let you understand

    that I'm not your average man

    when I got a jammy in my hand

    DAAAAAM!!!!! Oooooohh!!

    Listen to the way I slaaaaay, your crew

    Damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage

    Destruction, terror, and mayhem

    Pass me a sissy so suckas I'll slay him

    Farmers (What!!!) Farmers (What!!!)

    I'm ready (we're ready!!!)

    I think I'm gonna bomb a town (get down!!)

    Don't u neva, eva, pull my lever

    Cuz I explode

    And my nine is easy to load

    I gotta thank God

    Cuz he gave me the strength to rock

    HARD!! knock you out, papa said knock you out

  • Nefariousbig
    Oct 08, 2013

    A fantastic representation of

    as divined by divine Lego artist,

    . This is as close as I hope to get to understanding the

    according to Dante Alighieri.

    i. LIMBO - A place of monotony, here the souls are punished to wander in restless existence while they moan helplessly in echoes between the ruins of a temple

    ii. LUST - Surrounded by erotic representations, those overcome by lust are forced to watch and experience disgusting thin

    A fantastic representation of

    as divined by divine Lego artist,

    . This is as close as I hope to get to understanding the

    according to Dante Alighieri.

    i. LIMBO - A place of monotony, here the souls are punished to wander in restless existence while they moan helplessly in echoes between the ruins of a temple

    ii. LUST - Surrounded by erotic representations, those overcome by lust are forced to watch and experience disgusting things, ultimately being condemned to drown in the menstrual river

    iii. GLUTTONY - The circle itself is a living abomination, a hellish digestive system revealing horrific faces with mouths ready to devour the gluttons over and over for eternity

    iv. GREED - This pompous place is reserved for the punishment of the greedy ones

    v. ANGER - In this depressing place the souls are trapped in the swamp, they can’t move and they cannot manifest their frustration which is making them even more angry

    vi. HERESY - The giant demon watches closely over his fire pit, dwarfing the damned that are dragging the new arrivals in the boiling lava. Those who committed the greatest sins against God are getting a special treatment inside the temple where they are doomed to burn for eternity in the scorching flames

    vii. VIOLENCE - A place of intense torture where the horrific screams of the damned are eternally accompanied by the hellish beats of drums

    viii. FRAUD - : In Fraud the Demons enjoy altering the shape of souls, this is how they feed

    ix. TREACHERY - Lucifer lies here chained by the Angelic Seal which keeps him captive in the frozen environment

    ARTIST – Mahai Marius Mihu

    (All rights and photographs are property of Mahai Marius Mihu/Rex Features. I claim no ownership to any information in this review, and I own absolutely no rights to any of the property mentioned herein.)

  • Glenn Russell
    Nov 25, 2015

    Dante’s Inferno was the first book I was assigned to read in my high school World Literature class. Back then I couldn’t get over how much the emotion of fear set the tone as I read each page. I recently revisited this classic. Rather than a more conventional review – after all, there really is nothing I can add as a way of critical commentary –- as a tribute to the great poet, I would like to share the below microfiction I wrote a number of years ago:

    Joyride

    One balmy July evening at a seaside

    Dante’s Inferno was the first book I was assigned to read in my high school World Literature class. Back then I couldn’t get over how much the emotion of fear set the tone as I read each page. I recently revisited this classic. Rather than a more conventional review – after all, there really is nothing I can add as a way of critical commentary –- as a tribute to the great poet, I would like to share the below microfiction I wrote a number of years ago:

    Joyride

    One balmy July evening at a seaside amusement park, Hector and his date strolled past the merry-go-round, toddlers’ swings and tooting fire engine out to the more hair-raising rides. At the very end of the pier, beyond the Wild Mouse and giant Ferris wheel, there was a new roller coaster that looked pretty frightening. Not only did the tracks have steep climbs and amazing plunges but there was an opening in the boardwalk where the roller coaster took its passengers under the pier.

    "Look,” Hector said, pointing to the hole in the boardwalk, “I’ve never seen a roller coaster whose tracks go beneath the surface.”

    “Oh!” his date squealed, eager for as much of a thrill as the amusements had to offer, “that must really be scary. Let’s go.”

    They took their place in line behind the last thrill-seeker and watched as the roller coaster ascended, hurled down and sped around hairpin turns, finally climbing the highest hump of track and descending to where the track ran beneath the pier. Hector looked over at the spot in the boardwalk from which the train would eventually reemerge. He waited and waited. This was taking much more time than he though.

    Hector’s girlfriend squeezed his hand. “Wow! I bet they’re really getting spooked down there.”

    Hector heard shrieks coming from some place underneath their feet – shrieks not of delight or pleasure but shrieks to make your blood run cold.

    “Oh, I can’t wait!” his date said, tugging at his shirtsleeve.

    Hector crouched down to hear the shrieks and howls more clearly. Waves of heat rising from the spaces between the wooden boards of the boardwalk burned his face. After several uneasy moments he stood back up and watched as the roller coaster finally rolled through the cavernous opening in the boardwalk and stopped near the line.

    All of the passengers’ faces were ashen and a middle-aged woman in the front seat was weeping on her husband’s shoulder.

    “This must really be something,” Hector’s date said.

    One terrified passenger unbuckled herself and climbed out. She walked past, eyes downcast, and Hector could both see and smell her hair was singed.

    And if this wasn’t enough, the cheerless bearded man running the ride collected everyone’s tickets and pronounced lots would be drawn to determine who would have to ride in the first car. Hector’s date called out that if nobody else wanted, she would gladly volunteer for the front seat.

    When the old man nodded, she pulled Hector by the hand to the front of the roller coaster and strapped him in next to her. Hector noticed for the first time the name of this ride – spelled out in red iridescent letters over their heads was “DANTE’S INFERNO.”

    Hector slunk down in his seat next to his girlfriend, who was now giggling and playfully poking him in the ribs. As the roller coaster began moving, Hector tried to console himself with the grim fact that everyone on the preceding ride did at least come back alive.

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    Nov 13, 2016

    One of the great classics that everyone should attempt reading once. For Walking Dead fans, had there been no Dante, there could never have been a Kirkman. There is incredible violence and suffering (it is Hell after all), but the relationship between Virgil and Dante is a beautiful one that evolves as their descend lower and lower.

    I read both the John Ciardi translation in verse (rhyming for the first and third lines in each stanza trying to keep to Dante's 11-syllable structure) and John M Sin

    One of the great classics that everyone should attempt reading once. For Walking Dead fans, had there been no Dante, there could never have been a Kirkman. There is incredible violence and suffering (it is Hell after all), but the relationship between Virgil and Dante is a beautiful one that evolves as their descend lower and lower.

    I read both the John Ciardi translation in verse (rhyming for the first and third lines in each stanza trying to keep to Dante's 11-syllable structure) and John M Sinclair's prose translation (which also includes the original on the left pages). Both are highly commendable and have great notes and footnotes.

    "Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road, and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood."

    Here Dante shows that the book is autobiographical ("I went astray") and at the same time universal ("our life's journey"). It also moves between dreaming and reality ("I went astray...and work") which characterizes his depictions of hell, purgatory, and paradise that follow. The forboding of the "dark wood" is a perfect introduction to the description of hell that awaits us. Even the fact that he strayed from the "straight road" seems to presage the curvy, circular path he will take through hell's many circles. This is one of my favorite openings and chills me a bit whenever I reread it.

    If I were to see this book at a painting, the first one that comes to mind is Guernica by Picasso where the suffering is so painfully evident - albeit in black and white perhaps echoing the black text on the white page. The implicit condemnation of the perpetrators and the overall feeling of suffering in Inferno as in Guernica is overwhelming. I suppose I could also choose from one of Otto Dix's paintings or Bosch's but the very first that I thought of was Picasso.

  • Manny
    Apr 14, 2017

    Since it's Good Friday, and thus exactly 717 years since Dante's pilgrim descended into the underworld, I thought it would be an auspicious moment to tell people about the project I've been pursuing together with Dr Sabina Sestigiani, an Italian lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne. Dante's poem is celebrated as one of the treasures of world literature - but it is not very accessible, being written in archaic Italian. Although there are translations, and even these are wonderful, a tran

    Since it's Good Friday, and thus exactly 717 years since Dante's pilgrim descended into the underworld, I thought it would be an auspicious moment to tell people about the project I've been pursuing together with Dr Sabina Sestigiani, an Italian lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne. Dante's poem is celebrated as one of the treasures of world literature - but it is not very accessible, being written in archaic Italian. Although there are translations, and even these are wonderful, a translation of a poem can never be more than a shadow of the original. T.S. Eliot famously advised people just to dive in and start reading. It worked for Eliot, and you feel that in principle it must be the right approach. All the same, most readers find it a daunting prospect.

    We wondered if there was any way to make the voyage easier. Using the CALL platform we've developed at Geneva University, Sabina and I have been putting together a first version of what a electronic poetry appreciation assistant might look like. If you have a headset and you're on Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Explorer - I'm afraid we don't yet have it available for mobile devices - try going

    . Log in as 'guest' (no password required) and click 'Allow' on the popup to let the app access your microphone. You should now be on a screen that looks like this:

    On the right, there's a scrollable pane with the first 30 lines of the

    in slightly modernised Italian orthography. You can hover your mouse over any line to see it in Longfellow's English translation - we chose Longfellow since he's both a great poet in his own right and translates very literally. At the top, there's an embedded audio file where you can hear Sabina reading the text aloud. Italians who've tried out the app have been complimentary about her interpretation.

    On the left, we have an area where you can practise reading yourself. You're shown the poem one line at a time. If you press the Help button (question-mark icon), you'll get Longfellow's translation and hear Sabina reading just that line. The intention is that you should listen a few times, then press on the Record button (microphone icon),

    , and release. You should hear your voice echoed back, and the app will let you know if you said it approximately right: you'll get a green border for "okay", red for "try again". You use the arrows to move to the next and previous lines. We currently have six extracts loaded, taken from Canti I (opening), III (the Gates of Hell), V (Paolo and Francesca), X (Farinata), XXVI (Ulisse) and XXXIII (Ugolino). You can find the other extracts by using the Lesson tab on the left.

    Speaking just for myself, I've found the app very helpful for developing my appreciation of the beautiful language; I've soon got to the point where I want to learn pieces by heart, and find myself repeating them mentally. We're curious to hear what people think - please let us know! If you want to try creating your own interactive versions of poems, it's straightforward and just involves copying text onto a spreadsheet and recording the audio using an online tool. Message me and I'll send you details.

    Happy Easter!

    ______________________

    My multi-talented colleague Irene Strasly (she makes a guest appearance in

    ) has used the platform to create

    . Italians who've heard them say they're quite good.

    ______________________

    . Here is the first one, with a beautiful translation by Peter Robinson:

    She wrote it in 1929, when she was only seventeen. Nine years later, she was dead.

    ______________________

    Our friend Kirsten has added an interactive English poem - Shakespeare's sonnet CXXXVIII, which I'd never properly noticed before. You can find it

    .


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