This first volume of this new Divine Comedy presents the Italian text of the Inferno and, on facing pages, a new prose translation (the first in 25 years). Robert Durling's translation brings a new power and accuracy to the rendering of Dante's 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 expore 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 four indexes.