Dante
The Divine Comedy
A tremendous amalgam -- history, poetry, theology, political
commentary, autobiography -- all fused together in one of the
richest, most multi-layered works in Western literature.   In the
"middle of life's journey," Dante is taken on a journey through hell,
purgatory and heaven.   Guided by
Virgil and, later, by his lost love
Beatrice, Dante constructs a magical travelogue which allows free
scope to his imaginative genius.   The Inferno has received most of
the attention over the years, offering readers a vicarious thrill
seeing the infamous meeting their just, and sometimes curiously
constructed, reward.   After all, the best literatures has always
been heavy on sin.  But the
Purgatorio and Paradiso are
extraordinary works, not a predictable litany of pieties according to
Aquinas, and have never been surpassed for capturing a sense of
divine transcendence in poetic language.  

WEB RESOURCES

You won't find it at AAA, but every reader of Dante needs a
roadmap to hell.   Or look here, or here, but sorry NOT here.   Or
take
the interactive tour.   

Dante's
Inferno . . . you've read the book, now play the video game!

The Longfellow translation is not without its musty charm, and this
website allows easy comparison with the original Italian text and
the Mandelbaum version.  
TIPS FOR READERS

I first studied this
work when living in
Italy, and even tried
translating a canto
myself.   A number
of solid translations
have appeared over
the years.  Ezra
Pound claimed that
Binyon's version was
one of the finest
translations of any
major work into
English -- but I find it
a little cumbersome.  
I relied on
Ciardi and
Sinclair when I first
studied the work in
Italian.  Since then
Pinksy and
Mandelbaum have
weighed in with their
own contributions. But
my favorite
version is also one of
the most economical
-- the
Dorothy
Sayer's translation,
available in Penguin
paperbacks.  


A MODERN TWIST . . .

Dante deserves his
own Da Vinci Code -- or
perhaps this is a
punishment like
those he metes out
in the Inferno.  In
any event, Matthew
Pearl offers us The
Dante Club.