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The Inferno
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About the Author

Robert Hollander taught Dante's Divine Comedy to Princeton students for forty-two years, and is the author of a dozen books and more than seventy articles on Dante, Boccaccio, and other Italian authors. He is Professor in European Literature Emeritus at Princeton and the founding director of both the Dartmouth Dante Project and the Princeton Dante Project. He has received many awards, including the gold medal of the city of Florence and the gold florin of the Dante Society of America, in recognition of his work on Dante. Jean Hollander has taught literature and writing at Brooklyn College, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the College of New Jersey, where she was director of the Writers' Conference for twenty-three years.

Reviews

Inferno is the first of the three books of The Divine Comedy being freshly translated by the Hollanders, with Purgatorio and Paradiso scheduled for release in 2002. This edition offers their interpretation on the right-hand page with Dante's original Italian text on the left. Robert Hollander has a very esteemed reputation as a translator of Dante and others, so this no doubt would be a worthy addition to literature collections already possessing previous versions. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The most accessible and the closest to the Italian...with ample commentary easily and unobtrusively available at the end of each Canto."-Tim Parks, The New Yorker "The Hollanders...act as latter-day Virgils, guiding us through the Italian text that is printed on the facing page."-The Economist "Probably the most finely accomplished and may well prove the most enduring.... The annotation...is crowded with useful insights and bits of information and keeps us abreast of scholarly opinion across the ages."-R.W.B. Lewis, Los Angeles Times Book Review

The opening canzone of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy has appeared in almost every imaginable variety of English translation: prose, blank verse and iambic pentameter; unrhymed or in terza rima; with and without the original Italian; with commentary ranging from a few notes to a full separate volume. The translations have been produced by poets, scholars and poet-scholars. In the past six years alone, six new translations of the Inferno have appeared (including Robert Pinsky's 1994 rendition for FSG) and at least 10 others remain in print, including Allen Mandelbaum's celebrated 1980 translation (Univ. of Calif. Press and Bantam) and the extensively annotated editions of Charles Singleton (Princeton Univ. Press) and Mark Musa (Univ. of Indiana Press), the latter two unlikely to be surpassed soon in terms of extensiveness of commentary. Dante scholar Robert Hollander and the poet Jean Hollander bring to this crowded market a new translation of the Inferno that, remarkably, is by no means redundant and will for many be the definitive edition for the foreseeable future. The heart of the Hollanders' edition is the translation itself, which nicely balances the precision required for a much-interpreted allegory and the poetic qualities that draw most readers to the work. The result is a terse, lean Dante with its own kind of beauty. While Mandelbaum's translation begins "When I had journeyed half of our life's way,/ I found myself within a shadowed forest,/ for I had lost the path that does not stray," the Hollanders' rendition reads: "Midway in the journey of our life/ I came to myself in a dark wood,/ for the straight way was lost." While there will be debate about the relative poetic merit of this new translation in comparison to the accomplishments of Mandelbaum, Pinsky, Zappulla and others, the Hollanders' lines will satisfy both the poetry lover and scholar; they are at once literary, accessible and possessed of the seeming transparence that often characterizes great translations. The Italian text is included on the facing page for easy reference, along with notes drawing on some 60 Dante scholars, several indexes, a list of works cited and an introduction by Robert Hollander. General readers, students and scholars will all find their favorite circles within this layered text. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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