The Divine Comedy marked nothing less than the arrival of vernacular
Italian as a literary language--and Dante's book is still considered Italy's
greatest literary achievement. Its highly idiomatic verse, however,
has long bedeviled English-language translators. Burton Raffel, whose
translation of Don Quixote is acclaimed for making Cervantes more accessible
to the modern generation, in this new translation for Northwestern
World Classics, shows exciting new directions, preserving
both the lyricism of the original and its incisive meaning. First-time
readers and longtime fans of "the supreme poet" alike will cherish this
clear and lyrical rendering of one of world literature's masterpieces.
The Divine Comedy depicts the journey of Dante the pilgrim, guided
by the poet Virgil and the love of his life, Beatrice, as he moves through
the stages of his life and world. Raffel's single-volume translation
of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso follows the complete journey of a
spiritual pilgrim who struggles from the depths of the inferno to the
heights of paradise. In the former Dante meets many of his political
enemies, suffering the punishments that match their crimes in life.
And in the ninth circle of Hell, Lucifer--the ultimate traitor--is shown
chewing on Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot, three others who committed
horrendous acts of treason in the classical and early Jewish
worlds. Dante's evocative description of Heaven is a sort of homecoming
for the exiled poet.
Dante's epic poem challenged the political and religious hierarchy
of his time and remains a powerful and universal expression of human
desires, strivings, and shortcomings.