The Divine Comedy (Large Print Edition)

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Overview

Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise -- the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.

Now, for the first time, John Ciardi's brilliant and authoritative translations of Dante's three soaring canticles -- The ...

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Overview

Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise -- the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.

Now, for the first time, John Ciardi's brilliant and authoritative translations of Dante's three soaring canticles -- The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso -- have been gathered together in a single volume. Crystallizing the power and beauty inherent in the great poet's immortal conception of the aspiring soul, The Divine Comedy is a dazzling work of sublime truth and mystical intensity.

This title contains The Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Martin
The best I have ever come across.
Harper's Monthly
As a crown to his literary life, Longfellow combines his exquisite scholarship and his poetic skill and experience in the translation of one of the great poems of the world.
John Ahern
As a translation into triple rhyme I believe that Palma's work will become the translation of choice for most readers.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I find Michael Palma's Inferno to be one that I'm having a hard time improving.
North American Review
Longfellow, in rendering the substance of Dante's poem, has succeeded in giving also -- so far as art and genius could give it -- the spirit of Dante's poetry.
Richard Wilbur
I think highly of Michael Palma's Inferno....Readers will find it admirably clear and readable.
William Dean Howells
Here at last that much suffering reader will find Dante's greatness manifest, and not his greatness only, but his grace, his simplicity, and his affection... Opening the book we stand face to face with the poet, and when his voice ceases we may well marvel if he has not sung to us in his own Tuscan.
The Nation
X. J. Kennedy
His wonderfully readable translation comes close to perfection. I'm tempted to call it a miracle.
Library Journal
Dante's Divine Comedy remains an invitation and challenge for modern poets and translators how to provide an aid for scholars but also to suggest something of Dante's greatness as a poet. Recent verse translations include those of Allen Mandelbaum (1980), Robert Pinsky (1994), Marc Musa (1995), and Peter Dale (1997), and Robert Durling has created a good prose version (1996). Palma, a poet who has provided English renditions of the poetry of Alfredo De Palchi, Guido Gozzano, and Diego Valeri, among others, takes up the challenge with commendable results. Like Dale, and unlike the rest, he attempts to capture Dante's terza rima, which is a challenge in rhyme-poor English. However, Palma's diction and syntax capture the range and vigor of the Inferno more accurately than that of his colleagues. Palma includes a minimum of notes to identify major figures and explain his reading of selected lines. This edition includes the Italian on the facing page. A superb translation; highly recommended for all libraries. T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780554260853
  • Publisher: BiblioBazaar
  • Publication date: 8/18/2008
  • Pages: 708
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Charles H. Sisson is a well-known poet and translator, and editor of Poetry Nation Review. David Higgins is Head of Italian Studies at the University of Bristol, and is the author of Dante and the Bible (1992).

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Read an Excerpt

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

  mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,

  che la diritta via era smarrita.

Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura4

  esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte

  che nel pensier rinova la paura!

Tant' è amara che poco è più morte;7

  ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai,

  dirò de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.

Io non so ben ridir com' i' v'intrai,10

  tant' era pien di sonno a quel punto

  che la verace via abbandonai.

Ma poi ch'i' fui al piè d'un colle giunto,13

  là dove terminava quella valle

  che m'avea di paura il cor compunto,

guardai in alto e vidi le sue spalle16

  vestite già de' raggi del pianeta

  che mena dritto altrui per ogne calle.

Allor fu la paura un poco queta,19

  che nel lago del cor m'era durata

  la notte ch'i' passai con tanta pieta.

E come quei che con lena affannata,22

  uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,

  si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata,

Canto One

Lost in a dark wood and threatened by three beasts, Dante is rescued by Virgil, who proposes a journey to the other world.

Midway upon the journey of our life

  I found myself in a dark wilderness,

  for I had wandered from the straight and true.

How hard a thing it is to tell about,4

  that wilderness so savage, dense, and harsh,

  even to think of it renews my fear!

It is so bitter, death is hardly more-7

  but to reveal the good that came to me,

  I shall relate the other things I saw.

How I had entered, I can't bring to mind,10

  I was so full of sleep just at that point

  when I first left the way of truth behind.

But when I reached the foot of a high hill,13

  right where the valley opened to its end-

  the valley that had pierced my heart with fear-

I raised my eyes and saw its shoulders robed16

  with the rays of that wandering light of Heaven°

  that leads all men aright on every road.

That quieted a bit the dread that stirred19

  trembling within the waters of my heart

  all through that night of misery I endured.

And as a man with labored breathing drags22

  his legs out of the water and, ashore,

  fixes his eyes upon the dangerous sea,

° that wandering light of Heaven: Italian pianeta, "planet." It is the sun, considered a planet, or wandering light, revolving about the earth.

così l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,25

  si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo

  che non lasciò già mai persona viva.

Poi ch'èi posato un poco il corpo lasso,28

  ripresi via per la piaggia diserta,

  sì che 'l piè fermo sempre era 'l più basso.

Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar de l'erta,31

  una lonza leggera e presta molto,

   che di pel macolato era coverta;

e non mi si partia dinanzi al volto,34

  anzi 'mpediva tanto il mio cammino,

  ch'i' fui per ritornar più volte vòlto.

Temp' era dal principio del mattino,37

  e 'l sol montava 'n sù con quelle stelle

  ch'eran con lui quando l'amor divino

mosse di prima quelle cose belle;40

  sì ch'a bene sperar m'era cagione

  di quella fiera a la gaetta pelle

l'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione;43

  ma non sì che paura non mi desse

  la vista che m'apparve d'un leone.

Questi parea che contra me venisse46

  con la test' alta e con rabbiosa fame,

  sì che parea che l'aere ne tremesse.

Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame49

  sembiava carca ne la sua magrezza,

  e molte genti fé già viver grame,

questa mi porse tanto di gravezza52

  con la paura ch'uscia di sua vista,

  ch'io perdei la speranza de l'altezza.

E qual è quei che volontieri acquista,55

  e giugne 'l tempo che perder lo face,

  che 'n tutti suoi pensier piange e s'attrista;

tal mi fece la bestia sanza pace,58

  che, venendomi 'ncontro, a poco a poco

  mi ripigneva là dove 'l sol tace. So too my mind, while still a fugitive,25

  turned back to gaze again upon that pass

  which never let a man escape alive.

When I had given my weary body rest,28

  I struck again over the desert slope,

  ever the firmer foot the one below,

And look! just where the steeper rise began,31

  a leopard light of foot and quick to lunge,

  all covered in a pelt of flecks and spots,

Who stood before my face and would not leave,34

  but did so check me in the path I trod,

  I often turned to go the way I came.

The hour was morning at the break of dawn;37

  the sun was mounting higher with those stars°

  that shone beside him when the Love Divine

In the beginning made their beauty move,40

  and so they were a cause of hope for me

  to get free of that beast of flashy hide-

The waking hour and that sweet time of year;43

  but hope was not so strong that I could stand

  bold when a lion stepped before my eyes!

This one seemed to be coming straight for me,46

  his head held high, his hunger hot with wrath-

  seemed to strike tremors in the very air!

Then a she-wolf, whose scrawniness seemed stuffed49

  with all men's cravings, sluggish with desires,

  who had made many live in wretchedness-

So heavily she weighed my spirit down,52

  pressing me by the terror of her glance,

  I lost all hope to gain the mountaintop.

And as a gambler, winning with a will,55

  happening on the time when he must lose,

  turns all his thoughts to weeping and despair,

So I by that relentless beast, who came58

  against me step by step, and drove me back

  to where the sun is silent evermore.

those stars: the constellation Aries. It is the springtime of the year, recalling the springtime of the universe; see notes. Mentre ch'i' rovinava in basso loco,61

  dinanzi a li occhi mi si fu offerto

  chi per lungo silenzio parea fioco.

Quando vidi costui nel gran diserto,64

  «Miserere di me», gridai a lui,

  «qual che tu sii, od ombra od omo certo!».

Rispuosemi: «Non omo, omo già fui,67

  e li parenti miei furon lombardi,

  mantoani per patrïa ambedui.

Nacqui sub Iulio, ancor che fosse tardi,70

  e vissi a Roma sotto 'l buono Augusto

  nel tempo de li dèi falsi e bugiardi.

Poeta fui, e cantai di quel giusto73

  figliuol d'Anchise che venne di Troia,

  poi che 'l superbo Ilïón fu combusto.

Ma tu perché ritorni a tanta noia?76

  perché non sali il dilettoso monte

  ch'è principio e cagion di tutta gioia?».

«Or se' tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte79

  che spandi di parlar sì largo fiume?»,

  rispuos' io lui con vergognosa fronte.

«O de li altri poeti onore e lume,82

  vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amore

  che m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.

Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore,85

  tu se' solo colui da cu' io tolsi

   lo bello stilo che m'ha fatto onore.

Vedi la bestia per cu' io mi volsi;88

  aiutami da lei, famoso saggio,

  ch'ella mi fa tremar le vene e i polsi».

«A te convien tenere altro vïaggio»,91

  rispuose, poi che lagrimar mi vide,

  «se vuo' campar d'esto loco selvaggio;

ché questa bestia, per la qual tu gride,94

  non lascia altrui passar per la sua via,

  ma tanto lo 'mpedisce che l'uccide;

Now while I stumbled to the deepest wood,61

  before my eyes appeared the form of one

  who seemed hoarse, having held his words so long.

And when I saw him in that endless waste,64

  "Mercy upon me, mercy!" I cried out,

  "whatever you are, a shade, or man in truth!"

He answered me: "No man; I was a man,67

  and both my parents came from Lombardy,

  and Mantua they called their native land.

In the last days of Julius I was born,70

  and lived in Rome under the good Augustus

  in the time of the false and cheating gods.

I was a poet, and I sang of how73

  that just son of Anchises° came from Troy

  when her proud towers and walls were burnt to dust.

But you, why do you turn back to such pain?76

  Why don't you climb that hill that brings delight,

  the origin and cause of every joy?"

"Then are you-are you Virgil? And that spring79

  swelling into so rich a stream of verse?"

  I answered him, my forehead full of shame.

"Honor and light of every poet, may82

  my long study avail me, and the love

  that made me search the volume of your work.

You are my teacher, my authority;85

  you alone are the one from whom I took

  the style whose loveliness has honored me.

See there the beast that makes me turn aside.88

  Save me from her, O man renowned and wise!

  She sets the pulses trembling in my veins!"

"It is another journey you must take,"91

  replied the poet when he saw me weep,

  "if you wish to escape this savage place,

Because this beast that makes you cry for help94

  never lets any pass along her way,

  but checks his path until she takes his life.

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Table of Contents

How to Read Dante ix
Translator's Note xix
The Inferno 3
Introduction 5
Cantos 16
The Purgatorio 271
Introduction 273
Cantos 286
The Paradiso 583
Introduction 585
Cantos 596
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Interviews & Essays

Conversation with ANTHONY ESOLEN, translator of Dante’s INFERNO

1. What attracted you to Dante’s work?

Dante is arguably the greatest poet who ever lived; I think only Homer and Shakespeare deserve mention in the same breath. It is hard to find a poet whose art is as severe, as precisely chiseled, and as intellectually well-defined as is Dante's, yet at the same time his art possesses a kaleidoscopic complexity that staggers the imagination. Each of these qualities is rare enough. To find them at once in the same author, writing an epic about the ultimate questions, is–well, all I can say is that we will not see his like again.
2. What made you interested in doing translations?

Once, when I was a graduate student attending a party given by a professor of German, I met a young man who said he was studying Georgian, the language spoken by the natives of the Caucasus mountains. "Why on earth would you do that?" I asked, thinking I'd come upon another harmless academic snob. His answer shamed me. "One of the greatest living poets in the world lives in Georgia. He writes epics in Georgian, and I want to translate them into English so that other people can read them." Of all the things that academics do–some good, some bad, many simply vain and useless–I could hardly think of anything of greater value than to devote your talent to so humbling a task. Then, years later, my wife Debra suggested the same thing to me, and that is when I started work on Lucretius.
3. Is Dante difficult to render well in English? What were some of the challenges you faced as a translator, and what are youtrying to achieve with this translation?

Dante is difficult, period. I think, though, that once you get over the issue of rhymes, English is actually a pretty good language into which to translate the Commedia. (I love German, but I do shudder to think of Hell in the Teutonic tongue!) English is a peculiar language, after all: it contains its good stock of short, brusque, German or Middle French words, enriched by an enormous stock of words derived directly from Latin or from the Romance languages. So the vocabulary, with all its subtle semantic and tonal shades, helps a lot, as does that most supple tool, English iambic pentameter.
What was I trying to achieve? I want to make people fall in love with Dante–really fall in love with him, and not just pretend to in order to score points at a literary soiree. For that, you need swift and vigorous but also musical verse. And I'm hoping that that's what I've provided.
4. Why iambic pentameter?
Nothing else will do. Free verse won't do; non-metrical (that is to say, free but not too free) verse won't do, either. Music must somehow be translated into what retains traces of the music. Iambic pentameter is the natural meter of English narrative poetry, imitating most faithfully the rhythms of our speech, and it is capable of extraordinary variation (consider the uses to which Shakespeare put it in his plays). We are fortunate to have it.
5. What kind of research did you do for this translation, and how did you go about doing it?

For the translation, I consulted many Italian editions of Dante, especially those whose notes brought out most clearly the meanings of his coinages or of strange dialectal words. As for the rest of the book, let's just say that for a year I had twenty volumes of Aquinas cluttering up the office.
6. Why has the INFERNO been so influential and admired over the ages and in our own time?

Well, for a while Dante did go out of fashion: too medieval, you know. With the important exceptions of Milton and Blake, he really did not have many admirers among English writers from the Tudors to the end of the eighteenth century. The English Romantics and their Victorian followers rediscovered his greatness–or at least they found the story of Dante and Beatrice to harmonize with their own beautiful, dreamy, half-sickly love of the chivalric past. That was in England; in Italy, Dante has been the poet who defined both language and nationhood. But I think that modern readers are attracted to Dante because they find in him what the modern world cannot offer: a cogent and coherent vision of the universe.
7. Why, in this new translation, did you include the “sourcebook” that presents Dante’s most important religious sources?

I'm a professor by trade and know what sorts of ancillary material I would want, and have wanted, in books I assign the students to read. Also, I think that you miss much of the joy of a work of art when you cannot walk a little way into the world that gave it birth.
8. What do you want readers to take away from this new translation?
A love for Dante, and maybe a clearer view of that great peak of intellectual and artistic achievement: the Middle Ages.
9. What are you working on now?

Don't tell my editor, but I'm taking a break! Actually, I'm going to be writing the introduction and the notes to my translation of Paradiso, while revising the completed translation. Purgatorio is finished and ready to be printed.
10. What other languages do you speak fluently and/or translate?

How fluently I speak it, I'd best let the natives judge, but I do speak German too, and read French, Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and some (New Testament, which is the easy stuff) Greek. I've translated Lucretius (De Rerum Natura; Latin) and Torquato Tasso (Gerusalemme Liberata; Italian), and one of these days I'm going to make good on a threat to translate into English verse a passel of Anglo-Saxon poems not named "Beowulf".
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 143 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(51)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(27)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 145 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2011

    I was disappointed

    The book, of course, is a classic but I was very disappointed in the translation and added notes. I find Charles Eliot Norton to be very big on himself. I would recommend (for anyone wanted to read The Divine Comedy) to find a different translation.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Hard to read

    Sometimesin english sometimes in another language

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 28, 2010

    This is not the John Ciardi Translation

    I just downloaded the this ebook, and this is not the John Ciardi translation!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2010

    Do Not Buy

    The illustrations go on top of text and mesh together from page to page obscuring the written word. A huge mess. Pity, since G. Dore is the best illustrator ever. NOT RECOMMENDED-DO NOT BUY.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2011

    booooo

    tootally sucks

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2001

    Abandon hope.

    This is a great disappointment. The reader lacks any dramatic range, natters on and on like a dotty old aunt through convoluted ideas, dialogue, and scenery. It is often a challenge to know which character is speaking, owing partly to very understated transitions provided by the translator. The publisher never does confess who the translator was, and fails to provide any supporting/critical materials such as the accompanying booklets in Penguin's Iliad and Odyssey readings which added so much depth to those (4 and 5 stars, respectively). I really wanted to enjoy this, but find I am loading each successive cassette more out of stubbornness than hopeful expectation.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Google OCR Version

    This is a scanned and OCD version of the text that is full of errors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Hey Larry who wrote a review on December 28, 2010

    You can not return books on your nook, but you can archive them. —@lexis :) PS: I did not read this book yet, but it sounds great!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    Hard read but soooo worth it

    This book is old, so the way this book is written is old and proper. It's a really good book though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    I learned about Dante and the Divine Comedy in school.

    I learned about Dante and the Divine Comedy in school. Not sure if I liked his whole idea about the area in between heaven and hell.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Good book

    I find it to be a very good book i say everyone should read it you will find it very interesting and you will not be sorry you read it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Thomas paine

    good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    The divine Comedy everyone should read!

    All three books were amazing to have such insigh in Dantes books!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    Dante is brilliant

    I don't approve of the translation

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    Dante

    Epic!

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Blahhhhhh

    Sooooo bad

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2011

    FAIL!

    This download is totally corrupt. It will only turn to pg 298, and 6??. The two pages that do open are double printed. Don't waste your time or bread on this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    Trying to return-no e-mail address

    Hi, trying to return this e-book. Not sure how to e-mail you if I cannot find an e-mail address. This is more toward the publisher. The book is excellent. Just not something that I want on my reader at the moment. Please and thank you.

    Larry

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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