Dante's Inferno Free PDF book (1954) Translated by John Ciardi

Dante's Inferno Free PDF book Translated by John Ciardi


Inferno (pronounced [iɱˈfɛrno]; Italian for "Hell") is the first part of Italian writer Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. The Inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.

Review by 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 are 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 Sinclair's prose translation (which also includes the original on the left pages). Both are highly commendable and have great notes and footnotes.

"Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road, and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood."

Here Dante shows that the book is autobiographical ("I went astray") and at the same time universal ("our life's journey"). It also moves between dreaming and reality ("I went astray...and work") which characterizes his depictions of hell, purgatory, and paradise that follow. The forboding of the "dark wood" is a perfect introduction to the description of hell that awaits us. Even the fact that he strayed from the "straight road" seems to presage the curvy, circular path he will take through hell's many circles. This is one of my favorite openings and chills me a bit whenever I reread it.

If I were to see this book at a painting, the first one that comes to mind is Guernica by Picasso where the suffering is so painfully evident - albeit in black and white perhaps echoing the black text on the white page. The implicit condemnation of the perpetrators and the overall feeling of suffering in Inferno as in Guernica is overwhelming. I suppose I could also choose from one of Otto Dix's paintings or Bosch's but the very first that I thought of was Picasso.


Author: Dante
 Publication Date: 1954
Translated by Henry John Ciardi
Updated Translator



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