ISBN-10: 0812967216

ISBN-13: 9780812967210

Edition: 2003

Authors: Dante Alighieri, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Matthew Pearl, Lino Pertile

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In 1867, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow completed the first American translation of Inferno and thus introduced Dante’s literary genius to the New World. In the Inferno, the spirit of the classical poet Virgil leads Dante through the nine circles of Hell on the initial stage of his journey toward Heaven. Along the way Dante encounters and describes in vivid detail the various types of sinners in the throes of their eternal torment.
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List price: $13.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 2/4/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Born Dante Alighieri in the spring of 1265 in Florence, Italy, he was known familiarly as Dante. His family was noble, but not wealthy, and Dante received the education accorded to gentlemen, studying poetry, philosophy, and theology. His first major work was Il Vita Nuova, The New Life. This brief collection of 31 poems, held together by a narrative sequence, celebrates the virtue and honor of Beatrice, Dante's ideal of beauty and purity. Beatrice was modeled after Bice di Folco Portinari, a beautiful woman Dante had met when he was nine years old and had worshipped from afar in spite of his own arranged marriage to Gemma Donati. Il Vita Nuova has a secure place in literary history: its vernacular language and mix of poetry with prose were new; and it serves as an introduction to Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, in which Beatrice figures prominently. The Divine Comedy is Dante's vision of the afterlife, broken into a trilogy of the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Dante is given a guided tour of hell and purgatory by Virgil, the pagan Roman poet whom Dante greatly admired and imitated, and of heaven by Beatrice. The Inferno shows the souls who have been condemned to eternal torment, and included here are not only mythical and historical evil-doers, but Dante's enemies. The Purgatory reveals how souls who are not irreversibly sinful learn to be good through a spiritual purification. And The Paradise depicts further development of the just as they approach God. The Divine Comedy has been influential from Dante's day into modern times. The poem has endured not just because of its beauty and significance, but also because of its richness and piety as well as its occasionally humorous and vulgar treatment of the afterlife. In addition to his writing, Dante was active in politics. In 1302, after two years as a priore, or governor of Florence, he was exiled because of his support for the white guelfi, a moderate political party of which he was a member. After extensive travels, he stayed in Ravenna in 1319, completing The Divine Comedy there, until his death in 1321.

During his lifetime, Longfellow enjoyed a popularity that few poets have ever known. This has made a purely literary assessment of his achievement difficult, since his verse has had an effect on so many levels of American culture and society. Certainly, some of his most popular poems are, when considered merely as artistic compositions, found wanting in serious ways: the confused imagery and sentimentality of "A Psalm of Life" (1839), the excessive didacticism of "Excelsior" (1841), the sentimentality of "The Village Blacksmith" (1839). Yet, when judged in terms of popular culture, these works are probably no worse and, in some respects, much better than their counterparts in our time. Longfellow was very successful in responding to the need felt by Americans of his time for a literature of their own, a retelling in verse of the stories and legends of these United States, especially New England. His three most popular narrative poems are thoroughly rooted in American soil. "Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie" (1847), an American idyll; "The Song of Hiawatha" (1855), the first genuinely native epic in American poetry; and "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (1858), a Puritan romance of Longfellow's own ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullens. "Paul Revere's Ride," the best known of the "Tales of a Wayside Inn"(1863), is also intensely national. Then, there is a handful of intensely personal, melancholy poems that deal in very successful ways with those themes not commonly thought of as Longfellow's: sorrow, death, frustration, the pathetic drift of humanity's existence. Chief among these are "My Lost Youth" (1855), "Mezzo Cammin" (1842), "The Ropewalk" (1854), "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" (1852), and, most remarkable in its artistic success, "The Cross of Snow," a heartfelt sonnet so personal in its expression of the poet's grief for his dead wife that it remained unpublished until after Longfellow's death. A professor of modern literature at Harvard College, Longfellow did much to educate the general reading public in the literatures of Europe by means of his many anthologies and translations, the most important of which was his masterful rendition in English of Dante's Divine Comedy (1865-67).

Matthew Pearl received a degree in English and American Literature from Harvard University in 1997 and a law degree from Yale Law School in 2000. He writes novels including The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens. He has also taught literature and creative writing at Harvard University and Emerson College.

Biographical Note
A Note on the Text
The Dark Forest
The Hill of Difficulty
The Panther, the Lion, and the Wolf
Dante's Protest and Virgil's Appeal
The Intercession of the Three Ladies Benedight
The Gate of Hell
The Inefficient or Indifferent
Pope Celestine V
The Shores of Acheron
The Earthquake and the Swoon
The First Circle
Limbo, or the Border Land of the Unbaptized
The Four Poets, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan
The Noble Castle of Philosophy
The Second Circle
The Wanton
The Infernal Hurricane
Francesca da Rimini
The Third Circle
The Gluttonous
The Eternal Rain
The Fourth Circle
The Avaricious and the Prodigal
Fortune and her Wheel
The Fifth Circle
The Irascible and the Sullen
Philippo Argenti
The Gate of the City of Dis
The Furies
The Angel
The City of Dis
The Sixth Circle
Farinata and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti
Pope Anastasius
General Description of the Inferno and its Divisions
The Minotaur
The Seventh Circle
The Violent
The Violent against their Neighbors
The Centaurs
The Wood of Thorns
The Harpies
The Violent against themselves
Pier della Vigna
Lano and Jacopo da Sant' Andrea
The Sand Waste
The Violent against God
The Statue of Time, and the Four Infernal Rivers
The Violent against Nature
Brunetto Latini
Guidoguerra, Aldobrandi, and Rusticucci
Cataract of the River of Blood
The Violent against Art
Descent into the Abyss of Malebolge
The Eighth Circle: Malebolge
The Fraudulent
The First Bolgia: Seducers and Panders
Venedico Caccianimico
The Second Bolgia: Flatterers
Allessio Interminelli
The Third Bolgia: the Simoniacs
Pope Nicholas III
The Fourth Bolgia: Soothsayers
Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Arunas, Manto, Eryphylus, Michael Scott, Guido Bonatti, and Asdente
The Fifth Bolgia: Peculators
The Elder of Santa Zita
Ciampolo, Friar Gomita, and Michael Zanche
The Sixth Bolgia: Hypocrites
Catalano and Loderingo
The Seventh Bolgia: Thieves
Vanni Fucci
Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, Cianfa de' Donati, and Guercio Cavalcanti
The Eighth Bolgia: Evil Counsellors
Ulysses and Diomed
Guido da Montefeltro
The Ninth Bolgia: Schismatics
Mahomet and Ali
Pier da Medicina, Curio, Mosca, and Bertrand de Born
The Tenth Bolgia: Alchemists
Griffolino d' Arezzo and Capocchio
Other Falsifiers or Forgers
Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha, Adam of Brescia, Potiphar's Wife, and Sinon of Troy
The Giants, Nimrod, Ephialtes, and Antaeus
The Ninth Circle: the Frozen Lake of Cocytus
First Division, Caina: Traitors to their Kindred
Camicion de' Pazzi
Second Division, Antenora: Traitors to their Country
Bocca degli Abati and Buoso da Duera
Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri
Third Division of the Ninth Circle, Ptolomaea: Traitors to their Friends
Friar Alberigo, Branco d' Oria
Fourth Division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca; Traitors to their Lords and Benefactors
Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Brutus and Cassius
L' Ottimo Comento
Villani's Notice of Dante
Letter of Frate Ilario
Passage from the Convito
Dante's Letter to a Friend
Portraits of Dante
Boccaccio's Account of the Commedia
The Posthumous Dante
The Scholastic Philosophy
Homer's Odyssey, Book XI
Virgil's AEneid, Book VI
Cicero's Vision of Scipio
Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven
The Vision of Frate Alberico
The Vision of Walkelin
From the Life of St. Brandan
Icelandic Vision
Anglo-Saxon Description of Paradise
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