Synopses & Reviews
This first volume of Robert Durling's new translation of The Divine Comedy
brings a new power and accuracy to the rendering of Dante's extraordinary vision of Hell, with all its terror, pathos, and humor. Remarkably true to both the letter and spirit of this central work of Western literature, Durling's is a prose translation (the first to appear in twenty-five years), and is thus free of the exigencies of meter and rhyme that hamper recent verse translations. As Durling notes, "the closely literal style is a conscious effort to convey in part the nature of Dante's Italian, notoriously craggy and difficult even for Italians." Rigorously accurate as to meaning, it is both clear and supple, while preserving to an unparalleled degree the order and emphases of Dante's complex syntax.
The Durling-Martinez Inferno is also user-friendly. The Italian text, newly edited, is printed on each verso page; the English mirrors it in such a way that readers can easily find themselves in relation to the original terza rima. Designed with the first-time reader of Dante in mind, the volume includes comprehensive notes and textual commentary by Martinez and Durling: both are life-long students of Dante and other medieval writers (their Purgatorio and Paradiso will appear next year). Their introduction is a small masterpiece of its kind in presenting lucidly and concisely the historical and conceptual background of the poem. Sixteen short essays are provided that offer new inquiry into such topics as the autobiographical nature of the poem, Dante's views on homosexuality, and the recurrent, problematic body analogy (Hell has a structure parallel to that of the human body). The extensive notes, containing much new material, explain the historical, literary, and doctrinal references, present what is known about the damned souls Dante meets --from the lovers who spend eternity in the whirlwind of their passion, to Count Ugolino, who perpetually gnaws at his enemy's skull--disentangle the vexed party politics of Guelfs and Ghibellines, illuminate difficult and disputed passages, and shed light on some of Dante's unresolved conflicts.
Robert Turner's illustrations include detailed maps of Italy and several of its regions, clearly labeled diagrams of the cosmos and the structure of Hell, and eight line drawings illustrating objects and places mentioned in the poem. With its exceptionally high standard of typography and design, the Durling-Martinez Inferno offers readers a solid cornerstone for any home library. It will set the standard for years to come.
"[Durling's] rendering of Dante's diction is literal and accurate, conveying the tone and feel while remaining accessible."--Library Journal
"This new edition of Inferno is distinctly user-friendly....Serious students--in or out of the classroom--who...examine the original poem alongside a readable and reliable prose translation will find this edition excellently suited to their needs."--The Christian Science Monitor
'This new edition of Inferno is distinctly user-friendly....Serious students-in or out of the classroom-who...examine the original poem alongside a readable and reliable prose translation will find this edition excellently suited to their needs.'
-The Christian Science Monitor
'A useful volume for students and first-time visitors to Dante's cosmos.'-
'In this new translation, Durling tries to be as concrete as possible, producing a version that is more fluent and accurate than the versions of Mandelbaum and Musa.... Highly recommended.'
'Like the Inferno edition that preceded it, the Durling-Martinez Purgatorio, with its beautiful translation and superb apparatus of notes, is simply the best edition of Dante's second canticle in English. No other version offers anything close to what we find gathered here in one volume.'
-Robert Harrison, Professor of Italian, Stanford University
"As Durling and Martinez complete their monumental three-volume presentation of Dante's masterpiece, we can sense their triumph and elation, despite their characteristic modesty. This, after all, is the volume with which they can demonstrate the fullness and consistency of Dante's great project, its final approach to what they describe in one footnote as 'a pitch of intensity unique in all literature.' The scholarship, as always, is graceful, comprehensive, and acute, and it surrounds a translation that is so carefully considered and fully realized as to be, at times, quite breathtaking." --David Young, translator of The Poetry of Petrarch
"Durling and Martinez deliver Paradiso in elegant English prose faithful to Dante's Italian. The general introduction and succinct notes to each canto enable an informed reading of a frequently daunting text, while the longer 'Additional Notes,' bibliography, and indices will more than satisfy the most exigent critic. Marvelous, in the richest medieval sense of the term." --Michael Wyatt, author of The Italian Encounter with Tudor England
"At the end of his poem Dante claims that his 'high imagining failed of power,' but Durling and Martinez have suffered no such fate in completing their translation of the Divine Comedy. Their Paradiso is a crowning achievement, a work of lucid prose and of impeccable accuracy. Readers will find themselves rewarded by the succinct, richly informative notes at the end of each canto and the extended essay-notes at the back of the volume. A splendid accomplishment." --Richard Lansing, editor of The Dante Encyclopedia
This timeless Christian allegory has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery fo its own identity. In the Inferno, the first of the Comedy's three parts, Dante is conducted by the spirit of the classical poet Virgil through the nine circles of Hell on the initial stage of his arduous journey toward God.
This new translation presents the Italian text of the Inferno
, and, on facing pages, Robert Durling's new prose translation, which brings a new power and accuracy to the rendering of Dantes extraordinary vision of Hell, with all its terror, pathos, and sardonic humor, and its penetrating analyses of the psychology of sin and the ills that plague society. Readers will prize the directness and clarity, the rich expressiveness, and the rigorous accuracy of this contemporary prose translation, which preserves to an unparalleled degree the order and emphases of Dante's syntax, unhampered by any constraints of meter or rhyme. The Italian text has been newly edited with a view to the needs of American and English readers.
Martinez' and Durling's Introduction and Notes are designed with the first-time reader of the poem in mind, but will be useful to others as well. The concise Introduction presents essential biographical and historical background and a discussion of the form of the poem. The Notes are more extensive than those in most translations currently available, and they contain much new material. In addition, sixteen short essays explore the autobiographical dimension of the poem, the problematic body analogy, the question of Christ's presence in Hell, and individual cantos that have been the subject of controversy, including those on homosexuality. There is an extensive bibliography, and the indexes (to foreign words, passages cited, proper names in the Notes, and proper names in the text) will make the volume particularly useful.
Robert Turner's illustrations include detailed maps of Italy, clearly labeled diagrams of the cosmos and of the structure of Hell, and line drawings of objects and places mentioned in the poem.
Robert Durling's spirited new prose translation of the Paradiso
completes his masterful rendering of the Divine Comedy
. Durling's earlier translations of the Inferno
and the Purgatorio
garnered high praise, and with this superb version of the Paradiso
readers can now traverse the entirety of Dante's epic poem of spiritual ascent with the guidance of one of the greatest living Italian-to-English translators.
Reunited with his beloved Beatrice in the Purgatorio, in the Paradiso the poet-narrator journeys with her through the heavenly spheres and comes to know "the state of blessed souls after death." As with the previous volumes, the original Italian and its English translation appear on facing pages. Readers will be drawn to Durling's precise and vivid prose, which captures Dante's extraordinary range of expression--from the high style of divine revelation to colloquial speech, lyrical interludes, and scornful diatribes against corrupt clergy.
This edition boasts several unique features. Durling's introduction explores the chief interpretive issues surrounding the Paradiso, including the nature of its allegories, the status in the poem of Dante's human body, and his relation to the mystical tradition. The notes at the end of each canto provide detailed commentary on historical, theological, and literary allusions, and unravel the obscurity and difficulties of Dante's ambitious style . An unusual feature is the inclusion of the text, translation, and commentary on one of Dante's chief models, the famous cosmological poem by Boethius that ends the third book of his Consolation of Philosophy. A substantial section of Additional Notes discusses myths, symbols, and themes that figure in all three cantiche of Dante's masterpiece. Finally, the volume includes a set of indexes that is unique in American editions, including Proper Names Discussed in the Notes (with thorough subheadings concerning related themes), Passages Cited in the Notes, and Words Discussed in the Notes, as well as an Index of Proper Names in the text and translation. Like the previous volumes, this final volume includes a rich series of illustrations by Robert Turner.
This is the first volume of a new prose translation of Dante's epic - the first in twenty-five years. Robert Durling's translation brings a new power and accuracy to the rendering of Dante's extraordinary vision of Hell, with its terror, pathos, and sardonic humour, and its penetrating analyses of the psychology of sin and the ills that plague society.
A newly edited version of the Italian text can be on facing pages, and this edition includes fully comprehensive notes as well as sixteen essays on special subjects.
About the Author
Robert M. Durling
is Professor Emeritus of Italian and English Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His translation of Petrarch's Lyric Poetry
(1976) has been widely acclaimed.
Ronald L. Martinez is co-author, with Durling, of Time and the Crystal: Studies in Dante's 'Rime petrose' (1990) and has published articles on Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Ariosto.
Robert Turner has been a professional illustrator since 1979; he is employed as a graphic artist in archaeology at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe.
Table of Contents
Vol 1. Inferno. c1996.