Illustrations by Gustave Doré
Of the great poets, Dante is one of the most elusive and therefore one of the most difficult to adequately render into English verse. In the Inferno, Dante not only judges sin but strives to understand it so that the reader can as well. With this major new translation, Anthony Esolen has succeeded brilliantly in marrying sense with sound, poetry with meaning, capturing both the poem’s line-by-line vigor and its allegorically and philosophically exacting structure, yielding an Inferno that will be as popular with general readers as with teachers and students. For, as Dante insists, without a trace of sentimentality or intellectual compromise, even Hell is a work of divine art.
Esolen also provides a critical Introduction and endnotes, plus appendices containing Dante’s most important sources—from Virgil to Saint Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic theologians—that deftly illuminate the religious universe the poet inhabited.
This book is paperback and is recommended reading for Hillsdale's free online course, "Dante's Divine Comedy"
“Professor Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Inferno is the best one I have seen. . . . And his endnotes and other additions provoke answers to almost any question that could arise about the work.” —A. Kent Hieatt, translator of The Canterbury Tales
“Crisp and clear, Esolen’s version avoids two modern temptations: a slavish literalness to the Italian or a taking of liberties in the attempt to make this greatest of medieval poems esthetically modern. . . . In addition to his scholarly tact, Esolen is simply one of the most vigorous English translators of Dante ever.”—Crisis magazine
“Esolen’s new translation follows Dante through all his spectacular range, commanding where he is commanding, wrestling, as he does, with the density and darkness in language and in the soul. This Inferno gives us Dante’s vivid drama and his verbal inventiveness. It is living writing.” —James Richardson, professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University
“Opening the book we stand face to face with the poet, and when his voice ceases we may marvel if he has not sung to us in his own Tuscan."—William Dean Howells, The Nation