This edition of The Divine Comedy features the classic translation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It also features more than one hundred engravings by Gustave Dore, long considered the greatest artist to illustrate Dante's timeless masterpiece.
About the Author
Durante degli Alighieri, known as Dante (12651321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature
Paul Gustave Doré (January 6, 1832 January 23, 1883) was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.
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,
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The nicest English edition of the Divine Comedy I've seen in a long time. The translation is Longfellow's - a classic in its own right, though not to everyone's taste: blanc verse (not terza rima), ponderous, antiquated vocabulary, tortuous, baroque sentences. It takes getting used to, but it's worth the effort. The translation is happily matched by a complete set of Gustav Dore's engraved illustrations - there is one per every 3 or 4 pages, sometimes more. Again, Dore's illustrations are not to everyone's taste - some would find them classicistic, cold and a little boring - but it remains one of the most celebrated masterpieces of the 19th century most celebrated illustrator, and as such, worth perusing. The quality of reproduction is surprisingly good for a mass edition. To find imperfections one really has to squint and look very closely. The book, therefore, is very Victorian, very 19th century in spirit. It strives to be so in appearance as well - handsome red (bonded) leather cover, spine with heavy bands, gold lettering, all edges gilt, yellow silk tassel marker. The cover is embossed with beautiful design, rather 1930th in style. The paper is good quality, the type is easy to read. The book is a pleasure to hold and leaf through - not too heavy or oversize, like so many gift editions of classics that are literally unsupportable - one cannot hold them in hands long enough to read. It would make a beautiful gift, but I bought it for my own library.
Anyone that writes a review of this or any book and substitutes "aloud" for "allowed" should not be allowed to express their opinion aloud. This is required reading, and a centuries old classic. If you have the drive to forge your way through this epic, you will find it very interesting and enlightening.
A beautiful display of the translated version!
This is extremely hard to read. I was able to keep up with the plot through about the first half of purgatory, but only because I have read the inferno and purgatory with other Dante translations. By the time I reached the tenth canto of paradise I was so sick of trying to figure out what was going on that I just stopped. I really wish the publishers of this book would have gone with another translation. Nevertheless, this is a very nice copy of the Divine Comedy for a Dante fan to have. I would not however recommend this to someone who has not previously read Dante.
The down side: Longfellow translation can be difficult to read until you are half-way through the first book. I prefer the Musa translations. I liked the annotations found in the Penguin Classics versions with Musa and read Musa at the same time. The up side: You would pay this price for a quality book that featured the Gustavo Dore pictures alone. The drawings are AWESOME! The cover itself is a work of art--it well depicts the nature of the Divine Comedy. The pages are "creamy" colored, the type font is very readable. This book just looks good inside and out. Easton Press' version may have a higher quality binding--but it does NOT look as good on the shelf as this book. If I had a choice between the two publishers for a free version, I would choose this book over Easton Press. You will NOT regret buying this particular version of The Divine Comedy!
All joking aside, the Divine Comedy is a classic for a reason. It's masterful writing is still evident today.
This edition, aside from being affordable, is also a very good translation. It foregoes Dante's original rhyme scheme, but is otherwise rather accurate. The illustrations are very good as well, though it foregoes the diagrams and map that I have personally found helpful in previous editions.
To be honest, there isn't much to say that hasn't been said in the past 700 years: it's a solid read, especially if you want a more reinforced classical background.
When I got this book, I didn't know that it was footnote-less, which makes it kind of challenging with the archaic language and all the historical references. It takes a while to get into the swing of Dante's writing style, but in the end, it's definitely worth it. The message is beautiful and the whole book is a great way to exercise your brain.
I bought this copy as a gift. The cover and pages are beautiful, and the recipient was thrilled.
I bought this for myself a while back. It is one of my most cherished books. Everything is beautifully worded into the wonderful mind of Dante Alighieri. The pages are wonderful, the illistrations are even better and the words are still touching and memorable even after nearly 700 years. Wonderful book. So glad I bought it!
Dante's Divine Comedy is a masterpiece, and this edition only makes is more so. All of these Barnes & Noble leather bound books have an aura of class and beauty, but something about this one in particular stands out. As for the Divine Comedy itself, while Dante's wording can be fairly difficult to understand at times, is a brilliant tale. It centers around Dante himself, being lead on an epic journey through the 9 Circles of Hell, the rounds of Mount Purgatory, and finally the celestial spheres of Paradise. Not only does it serve as a work of literature, but also, a bit of a history book, describing characters, events and ideas that surrounded the period of Dante's life. While I certainly enjoyed the whole book, I have a personal love of poetic justice, which Dante executes perfectly in The Inferno. One of my favorites had to be the false prophets, who tried to look forward into the future in life, so in death their heads have been attatched backwards, so they must always look behind them. Gustave Dore's excellent depictions of scenes from all 3 parts of the Divine Comedy add a lot to the book, as well as occasionally help out when one gets confused with Dante's difficult to decipher language. However, these illustrations steadily decrease from Inferno to Paradiso, to the point where they only appear once every few Cantos. My honest reccomendation: if you have the patience to bear Dante's wording, The Divine Comedy will provide an epic unlike any you've ever witnessed before.
This is one of the best editions I have seen and read. Even though the vocabulary is a little hard and outdated this is still a classic and should be read.
I really like this version as it has the Longfellow translation with the Dore drawings and imho, this is as good as this classic can get. I only wish the cover, which is of excellent quality, was a bit more compatible with the Dore drawings, but that is only a feeble complaint. Excellent work, excellent quality, and an excellent price!
I read an edited version when I was in high school in my Senior English class. When I saw this book at B & N I knew I had to have it. This is not for the casual reader. This book is very in depth. Happy reading!!
Aside from its beautiful design, the literature was well written. Mind you, some sections of the novel could be confusing at times, because its a rough english translation from the old Latin language. In my opinion, I think Purgatorio was the hardest section to understand. You might have to refer to cliffnotes or sparknotes on some chapters in order to understand what Dante is talking about. Good price for this pretty edition.
Between the beautiful pictures and extremely well done translation its a most have copy of The Divine Comedy even if you own a paperback version. On the down side though is really difficult get lost in the story cause of the translation. Although the translation does give it that old tome feel which is what made me pick this book up in the first place. On the whole its a great story just have to take it in strides, maybe thats what the amazing art work is there for to give your imagination help to carry the story along...
The poetry can be difficult to understand and I honestly did not follow all of the old language used. However even with a layman's understanding of the the words, I still found it interesting and the poetry beautiful.
This amazing book inspired me to work away from sin and create an understanding between myself and others. Opened my eyes to what it was like back then. The only complaint I have on this book is that the STICKER on the front was NOT CENTERED and MADE IN CHINA. Though everything is now a days. Don't get this book for quality. GET THIS BOOK TO READ!
I've had this for so long now its family
Perhaps the finest edition on the market, especially when considering the price. The book is beautiful, particularly the leather bound cover and the frequent illustrations that mark the pages. The Divine Comedy is a very visual depiction of epic scenes that are enhanced greatly by the illustrations in the book. Would highly recommend!
This copy has the complete set of Dore illustrations. Anything with similar (but much less) illustrations from a 'fine' publishing house is going to cost your 3-4 times the cost of this book. It is definitely one of the gems of the Leatherbound series.
Takes a little getting used to, sometimes have to go back and read to fully understand what was being said. Love the hardcover. Really great book.
Hands down the nicest book in the Barnes & Noble leatherbound collection. This thing is a real work of art. The layout is amazing, the font is bold and large, and it is just absolutely FILLED with amazing pictures. Even if you don't read a single word it's lovely simply to thumb through.