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.
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. Considered Italy's greatest poet, this 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) which is a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life. Married to Gemma Donatic, Dante's political activism resulted in his being exiled from Florence to eventually settle in Ravenna. It is believed that The Divine Comedy-comprised of three canticles, The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso-was written between 1308 and 1320. Dante Alighieri died in 1321.Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin, and Cambridge where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.
"Kirkpatrick brings a more nuanced sense of the Italian and a more
mediated appreciation of the poem's construction than nearly all of
his competitors. . . . There is much to recommend here-certainly
the intelligence, the energy, the linguistic range. . . . His
introduction and canto-by-canto notes are remarkably level and
lucid, as attentive to structure as to syntax, language and motif,
and deftly cross-reference the whole poem. On their own, they would
justify the price."
-The Times (London)
"We gain much from Kirkpatrick's fidelity to syntax and nuance,
and from the fact that the Italian is on the facing page for our
inspection. . . . His introduction . . . tells you, very readably
indeed, pretty much all you need for a heightened appreciation of
the work. . . . Kirkpatrick edges us, smoothly, into Dante's mind,
and shows just how and why his influence has seemed to grow with
the passage of time. We even get a map of trecento Italy
(nestling against a map of hell). . . . If the Purgatorio
and Paradiso are as good as this, then English readers will,
I hope, start familiarising themselves with the two-thirds of the
work most never get round to reading."
-Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian "The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism... likely to be the best modern version of Dante.
-Bernard O'Donoghue "This version is the first to bring together poetry and scholarship in the very body of the translation-a deeply informed version of Dante that is also a pleasure to read."
-Professor David Wallace, University of Pennsylvania