The Divine Comedy
‘Inferno’ depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through the nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls from history and his own time.
Inferno is the first part of Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, revealing the eternal punishment reserved for such sins as greed, self-deception, political double-dealing and treachery. This Penguin Classics edition is translated and edited with an introduction and notes by Robin Kirkpatrick.
Describing Dante’s descent into Hell midway through his life with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls including the pagan Aeneas, the liar Odysseus, the suicide Cleopatra, and his own political enemies, damned for their deceit. Led by leering demons, the poet must ultimately journey with Virgil to the deepest level of all. Portraying a huge diversity of characters culminating in a horrific vision of Satan, the Inferno broke new ground in the vigour of its language and storytelling. It has had a particular influence on Modernist writers and their successors throughout the world.
Printed in English with facing pages in Dante’s Italian, this edition offers commentaries and notes on each canto by Robert Kirkpatrick.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), scion of a Florentine family, mastered in the art of lyric poetry at an early age. His first major work is La Vita Nuova (1292) an exercise in sonnet form constructed as a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life. It is believed that The Divine Comedy – comprised of three canticles, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso – was written between 1308 and 1320.
If you enjoyed the Inferno you might like Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, also available in Penguin Classics.
‘Kirkpatrick brings to this English Dante both his perfect knowledge of the Italian and an extraordinarily good ear in his own language’
Professor Piero Boitani, University of Rome