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.