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Inferno

(La Divina Commedia #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  127,300 ratings  ·  4,300 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 490 pages
Published December 9th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1314)
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Edward Richmond That's kind of a tricky question. Most people will read it in translation from the original 13th-century Italian, so the vocabulary will vary in…moreThat's kind of a tricky question. Most people will read it in translation from the original 13th-century Italian, so the vocabulary will vary in difficulty depending on the translators' goals. In general, any reasonably recent translation will be quite intelligible to most readers. I have seen bright teenagers handle it without any trouble at all, in terms of their ability to comprehend the vocab.

The real challenge is the historical and theological background of Inferno, which is complex. Dante was a high-ranking career politician in Florence, and was subsequently exiled from there, stripped of his property and forced to flee for his life. He was an intensely political man, extremely well educated, and he was nursing grudges that show up in the poem. He makes a lot of references to political events that most modern readers won't understand. And also, he spends a lot of time talking about medieval Roman Catholic theology, applying it to the story at hand. Again, modern readers tend to have trouble.

The best way to ensure a good experience with this poem is for you to choose a translation that is intended to be readable, with good notes on the text. I cut my teeth on the poem with the translation by Mark Musa, which you can find in The Portable Dante. It has fairly good explanatory notes.

A more recent, and possibly better choice, especially if you like parallel text translations, is the Inferno translation by Durling and Martinez, which has excellent notes. It's easily my favorite of those that are commonly available, and I have had glowing reviews of it from friends who wanted an accessible introduction to the poem.(less)
Andre LeMagne The Divine Comedy (which is not just the Inferno -- read all three parts!) is a masterwork of psychology. Each little vignette reveals something…moreThe Divine Comedy (which is not just the Inferno -- read all three parts!) is a masterwork of psychology. Each little vignette reveals something important about the human mind. The punishments in hell show people simply experiencing the consequences of their childish/neurotic/sinful behavior. There is poetic justice in each punishment. The Purgatorio shows people struggling to grow up and stop being infantile sinners. And the Paradisio -- is about science!(less)

Community Reviews

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really liked it 4.00  · 
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
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 like shit that ladies don't do. However, I was from the outset hypnotized by Dante's très Baudelaire-esque-grotesque imagery and over
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Inferno (La Divina Commedia #1) = The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Volume 1: Inferno, Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death, in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work in Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Chur
...more
Glenn Russell
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Dante’s Inferno - 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 a
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
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
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Manny
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 ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.
Manny
The other day, in the comment thread to her review of The Aeneid, Meredith called The Divine Comedy "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
...more
Hamad
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“But the stars that marked our starting fall away.
We must go deeper into greater pain,
for it is not permitted that we stay.”


🌟 Basically this book is about Dante’s journey in hell, so it must be one hell of a book, right?

🌟 I am not actually the biggest fan of modern poetry. I have tried books as The princess saves herself in this one and Milk and simply did not like them because they felt like a Facebook or a Tumblr p
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT HOW HELL IS GONNA SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK
Nefariousbig
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
A fantastic representation of Dante's Inferno - Nine Circles of Hell as divined by divine Lego artist, Mahai Marius Mihu. This is as close as I hope to get to understanding the Nine Circles 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
Limbo

ii. LUST - Surrounded by erotic representations, those overcome by lust are forced to watch and experience disgusting thin
...more
emma
whoa this book is wild.

in place of a review of this whole book, i'm just going to write about this single line in Inferno that i full on cannot stop thinking about. warning: this is completely nasty. blame Dante. also: all credit goes out to my literary foundations professor. i'm essentially regurgitating his argument.

in Canto XXXIII, the pilgrim encounters Count Ugolino. Ugolino, a former governor of Pisa, is feasting on the neck of Archbishop Ruggieri. in life, Ruggieri betrayed him, leading t
...more
Manuel Antão
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Sortes Vergilianae: "The Inferno of Dante" by Dante Alighieri, Robert Pinsky (trans.)


What I love about Dante is how he doesn't invoke the Muses, unlike Homer, or Virgil, and that he goes straight to the heart of the matter, and straight in to the poem, i.e. "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray, gone from the path direct". In the middle of his life Dante is lost in a dark wood, the man he most admi
...more
Leo .
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Maybe Dante was referring to the levels of materialism. The more one has the more one wants, spiraling downwards, deeper and deeper until the matter consumes. So dense and dark with matter and at absolute evil, Hell, where Satan resides.🐯👍
James
Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to Inferno, the first of three books in the "Divine Comedy" series, written around 1320 by Dante Alighieri. A few pieces of background information for those who many not know, before I get into a mini-review. Inferno, which means "Hell" was one of three books Dante wrote in the 14th century, essentially about the three spaces people occupy after death: Hell (Inferno), Purgatory and Heaven (Paradiso). I've only read Inferno, so I'm not able to discuss much on the o
...more
Maureen
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I DID IT. I FINISHED IT. BLESS.
This is such an interesting book, though definitely very hard to get through. I think if I was able to read it in Italian it would be a little easier as it would actually be read like Dante intended, but it's still really cool to see all the concepts! This is such an influential piece of literature and is referenced SO MUCH in culture that it is really cool to have a basis for it. I think I may reread this in a different rhyming translation next time to see what th
...more
7jane
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
(2016: review to 9780141195872 cover - hardback, red devils cover art:)
(I didn't read the main text of this one, but I think I will read the English half at some point.)
This one has chronology, introduction, map of Italy, plan of Hell plus commentaries and notes at the end. The main text itself is shown with Italian text on the left side, English on the right side. Commentaries include many comments on the linguistic details that I don't remember the paperback Penguin version having. There is al
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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 be ...more
Riku Sayuj
About Translation

It took me a while to decide on the translation to use. After a few days of research and asking around, I shortlisted Musa and Hollander. Went with Hollander since it seemed better organized. Turned out to be a good choice.

The translation is fluid and easy on the ear. The Italian version is also available when you want to just read the Italian purely for the sound of verse. I am no judge of the fidelity of the various translations, but this was an easy read and that was good. Th
...more
Richard
For the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament, The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh versus The Divine Comedy

(All citations from the Inferno are from the Longfellow translation.)

To You

Paw in paw we come
Pooh and the Bouncer
To lay this review in your lap.
Give us one of those sultry little smiles
and say you're surprised!
Say you can't get over it!
Say it's just what you've always wanted
and it's even more fun than a day at the spa
(because, let's face it, hunny honey, on my salary
I couldn'
...more
Vessey
I realize that I need to edit one particular part, but this review means a lot to me and I would like for it to stay the way it was written, regardless of the revalations and events that took place later.

Beautifully written and emotionally draining. However, this isn't simply a tale of terror. It is a philosophical and, I suppose, historical work as well. (I learned interesting historical facts). Who among us are sinners? Who are the righteous ones? Are people and deeds simply right or wrong, go
...more
JV (semi-hiatus)
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, classics, poetry
"Through me the way to the city of woe,
Through me the way to everlasting pain,
Through me the way among the lost.

Justice moved my maker on high.
Divine power made me,
Wisdom supreme, and primal love.

Before me nothing was but things eternal,
And eternal, I endure.
Abandon all hope, you who enter here."

- Inferno III, 1-9
Thanks for the historical references and throbbing headache, Dante! My head is now a big mess.

On a serious note, what an arduous journey through hell! Dante illustrates Inferno w
...more
Piyangie
The Inferno, part one of Dante's epic poem, the Divine Comedy, is the most imaginative and lyrical poetry I have read so far in my life. I'm yet to read Purgatory and Paradise, but in my honest view, I doubt if any other poetic work can surpass Dante's Divine Comedy.

Inferno is Dante's experience in walking through Hell. His guide is no other than Virgil, the famous poet who wrote Aeneid, sent by Beatrice, Dante's devoted love interest, who he says is in Paradise.
Dante's version of Hell is infl
...more
Joseph Spuckler
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The Inferno or Dante Alighieri need little introduction. Most people are familiar with the Divine Comedy regardless of their religion or lack of one. The Divine Comedy is one man's journey with his guide, through Hell and Purgatory, Virgil. Beatrice is his guide in heaven. The Inferno is the journey through the nine layers of hell and, to many, the most interesting of the three journies. Purgatory is a boring place by design and Heaven is well, heaven.

I always felt The Inferno contained the best
...more
Debbie
Jan 26, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure where the copy of the book came from. The copyright is one year before I was born, but I don't remember picking it up in a used book store. But I guess that's neither here nor there.

I wish I could honestly check off 5 stars and say that my eyes were opened. That I really felt transformed by having read this classic of literature and that I will make it point to re-read it every year on the anniversary of my having discovered the error of my ways in not reading it at age 5.

But I can'
...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 Reasons to Read Dante's Inferno

1. To finally figure out the difference between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Dante was a Guelph.

2. To discover why Constantine made his famous donation.

3. To learn some new and ingenious ways to torture your enemies. Dante is very imaginative in this regard.

4. To find out what happened to Potiphar's wife, Mohammed, Ulysses, Atilla the Hun, Cleopatra, and Helen of Troy. We meet them all in The Inferno.

I recommend Dorothy Sayers' translation because of the exce
...more
Stephen P
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: A Scary Impulse
I understand there is nothing new I can say about this classic. What I can do is offer my experience of reading Dante’s opus, to hope that by writing the review much more will be revealed to me of my reading than I know here at the start. I imagine I will offer much speculation which has probably been speculated upon for eons. But for me speculation is at the heart of reading and of writing. There is no Virgil to guide me-us. On our own let’s step into The Inferno.

Homage is due for this epic sc
...more
Richard Derus
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: This widely praised version of Dante's masterpiece, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award of the Academy of American Poets, is more idiomatic and approachable than its many predecessors. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Pinsky employs slant rhyme and near rhyme to preserve Dante's terza rima form without distorting the flow of English idiom. The result is a clear and vigorous translation that is also unique, stude
...more
Alan
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dante in English is heavy, while in Italian he is light, fast, almost a lyric poem. Palma's version is the lightest, fastest I've found. Often you hardly notice he's rhymed in tercets--his rhymes are so modern, unforced, and his syntax is so English.
True, Dante still has a medieval mind--barratry? simony?--and writes his own back-cover puff when Homer, Ovid, Horace and the boys all toast him as the sixth of the THEIR crowd. He only apologizes when he includes his own name in an epic, a breach o
...more
Eliza
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75

I finally read this classic! (It's about time) Which means I'll finally understand all the references in books and movies that derive from this novel. I mean, it always bothered me that I hadn't read this, so I'm glad to be able to say: Yes, I've read Inferno.

It's not a perfect 4 stars because there were some parts I genuinely didn't understand. Also, the unique but rather choppy writing style wasn't my favorite. Honestly, if my edition didn't have pictures, I'm sure I would've been much mor
...more
sologdin
One of the all-time great self-reflexive literary endeavors, wherein the author/narrator cleverly drafts out a constitution of Hell and then condemns himself thereto at multiple points.

Dante, in his capacity as the narrator, appears initially to leave much to be desired. We note ab initio, for instance, his inability to make full disclosure of the “forest dark” in which the journey commences: “But of the good to treat, which there I found, Speak will I of the other things I saw there” (Canto I);
...more
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3,365 followers
Dante Alighieri, or simply Dante (May 14/June 13 1265 – September 13/14, 1321), is one of the greatest poets in the Italian language; with the comic story-teller Boccaccio and the poet Petrarch, he forms the classic trio of Italian authors. Dante Alighieri was born in the city-state Florence in 1265. He first saw the woman, or rather the child, who was to become the poetic love of his life when he ...more

Other books in the series

La Divina Commedia (3 books)
  • Purgatorio (La Divina Commedia #2)
  • Paradiso (The Divine Comedy, #3)
“Do not be afraid; our fate
Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.”
2875 likes
“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.” 646 likes
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