Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
The newly-translated text of Dante's masterpiece is accompanied by illustrations and textual notes that incorporate contemporary cultural references.

McMillan Palgrave

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.

Publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. : Graywolf Press, c2012
Description: vii, 340 p. : ill. ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9781555976194
Branch Call Number: 851 Dan
Additional Contributors: Drescher, Henrik.
Bang, Mary Jo


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Nov 10, 2017

Mary Jo Bang's translation of the Inferno is an interesting one. Adopting a self-consciously postmodern tack, Bang attempts to bring the Inferno to a greater relevance for contemporary readers by sprinkling the verse with references to modernity, which in all fairness is precisely what the original did for its Italian audience with references to then-recent Florentine politics and scandals. Now, Bang's updated text can sometimes run the gamut from jarring (referencing South Park in Dante seems an odd choice) to ingenious (this version of Dante references Eliot's Waste Land, which in turn referenced Dante). Overall the occasional anachronism is annoying but outweighed, in my opinion, by the sense that some aspect of the poem has been recovered from the temporal void.

Feb 15, 2017

Should be on everyone's bucket list of books to read before he or she dies. The Michael Palma translation I read is excellent - it follows Dante's iambic pentameter as well as the rhyming scheme: ABA, BCB, CDC, etc. Frightening to discover where famous people lie within the nine circles of hell, including Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great - and, perhaps the most surprising, the Prophet Mohammed. This one is not for pre-teens, though - there are a few places where curse words are used (perhaps because no other word could describe a concept in the original Italian) - and besides, the scenes are just too scary for kids anyway.

Jan 13, 2017

I read the edition with translations from Dorothy Sayers and I loved the commentary with this book- the notes on specific lines and images really helped my understanding of this classic and the intricacies of Dante's poetic style. It's a really interesting, and as my professor states it, 'logical' organization of the classical ideas of sin and it's deserving punishment, with each deeper level and darker pit conveying the punishments of the marginally worse sinners, until Dante reaches Satan. It's an intriguing concept, apparently not as original an idea as I had previously thought for the time period, with Dante being guided through Hell because he has lost his way, but still a very cool class read. Not sure I would personally call it a comedy, though
*the introduction of Greek mythological figures and beasts was interesting given that they come from a pagan religion. I wonder what there purpose was- to get the audience's attention? Add dramatic flare?

Aug 30, 2016

Fantastic work by Dante!

Jul 01, 2014

While this was a book I read for a school assignment, I did come to like it. It, while difficult at time to understand, was far more readable than other texts from that period that I have read. The story is fascinating when taken from a psychological and sociological perspective, and I found myself often wanting to know more about Dante the author. Did he really believe in this version of Hell that he presented, and the religious construct it implicated or was it all fabricated?

May 08, 2014

Before I start talking about the book proper, I have a confession to make: I wasn't sure I really wanted to read philosophical poetry written seven centuries ago. I had doubts about style, quality of translation and my own lack of literary background in decyphering the numerous Christian and mythological references, not to mention political and cultural trivia from Dante's Florence. Thanks to my Goodreads friends, I took the plunge and I can report back that it was well worth the effort. Even better, it wasn't an effort, but a joyride, thanks primarily to my lucky pick of the Ciardi translation for my first foray into the phantastical world of Dante. So my answer to the questions: can we still read Dante for pleasure and not for academic study is a resounding yes. Another big Yes is the answer to the relevance of the Commedia for the modern reader. The fundamental soul searching questions about the relationship between spiritual and material life, morality and political power, religious and secular governance, reason and faith remain unchanged over centuries and must still be answered by each of us after our own fashion. Dante is as great choice as the lightbearer showing the way to redemption, as Virgil was to the poet on his descent into Hell.

Aug 20, 2009

I like this version because it has refences in it and makes it easier to read! Very religous.

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Feb 15, 2017

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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