The Divine Comedy, Volume 1: Hell (Penguin Classics)

The Divine Comedy, Volume 1: Hell (Penguin Classics)


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The first volume of Dante's Divine Comedy

Guided by the poet Virgil, Dante plunges to the very depths of Hell and embarks on his arduous journey towards God. Together they descend through the nine circles of the underworld and encounter the tormented souls of the damned - from heretics and pagans to gluttons, criminals and seducers - who tell of their sad fates and predict events still to come in Dante’s life. In this first part of his Divine Comedy, Dante fused satire and humour with intellect and soaring passion to create an immortal Christian allegory of mankind’s search for self-knowledge and spiritual enlightenment.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140440065
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/30/1950
Series: Divine Comedy Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 80,931
Product dimensions: 5.11(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. He was married when he was around twenty to Gemma Donati and had four children. He met Beatrice, who was to be his muse, in 1274, and when she died in 1290 he sought distraction in philosophy and theology, and wrote La Vita Nuova. He worked on the Divine Comedy from 1308 until near the time of his death in Ravenna in 1321.

Dorothy L. Sayers wrote novels, poetry, and translated Dante for Penguin Classics. She died in 1957.

Barbara Reynolds was Lecturer in Italian at Cambridge University and subsequently Reader in Italian Studies at Nottingham, and Honorary Reader at Warwick. She has written books, both on Italian authors and on Dorothy L. Sayers.

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The Divine Comedy, Volume 1: Hell (Penguin Classics) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
PilgrimMS More than 1 year ago
I wish the translator was still alive so I could write her a fan letter! The introduction of detailed history and study of the making and the form in this piece was like a college course on the subject of Dante and the Divine Comedy, as well as the world and times he was living in. It is hard to believe the poetry was not originally written in English, the rhyme pattern and cadence are so natural. I am writing before I have completed it because I just had to say something right away. I have also purchased Purgatory and Heaven and I can hardly wait to read them! The reason I had purchased these books in the first place was I read that Dorothy L. Sayers had done a translation of The Divine Comedy. Her mysteries and The Mind of the Maker had been so satisfying, I had to try out reading this classic with her touch. It definitely is not a disappointing choice!
harperbruce More than 1 year ago
When Penguin accepted Dorothy Leigh Sayers' manuscript for her translation of Dante's "Inferno," little did they realize what they were getting. Most people know Sayers (often referred to as DLS) as the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries of the Twenties and Thirties; but she was also a MA of Somerville College, Oxford, with a first-class honors major in modern languages and medieval literature. DLS took a work meant for the people (it was written in the "vulgar" Italian, not the more scholarly Latin, so that all could enjoy it), and produced a work that is extremely readable in English as well. As well as managing to greatly preserve the original rhyme-scheme, her choice of wording for the always difficult job of translation achieves a readability that is a delight for the average person. Add to it the excellent notes on each canto, a good small biography and literary discussion of Dante himself, and discussions of the allegory within the poetry, and you end up with a book that every well-read person should have on their shelf. Begin with this one, and make sure to get the other two ("Purgatory" and "Paradise"); you won't regret this at all.
duranain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic. I am not a christian, but this book is just so incredibly well written, vivid, and poetic. Though I do commend the author notes the most, as without those I would have had no idea what was going on for a lot of the time. Dante is somewhat of a name dropper. Favorite part (not a commentary on who's right, I am referencing more the lyrical aspect and resultant imagery here) is the description of the punishment of Mohammed.
catherinestead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first tried reading this about ten years ago when I was studying medieval history, and didn't get very far. In fact, I can tell you that I got to the end of Canto 5, because that's where the margin notes in my copy finish. Reading it now, I can't imagine why I didn't get further. This was a translation by Dorothy L. Sayers (first published 1949), and I found it very accessible and easy to read. In her introduction, Sayers explains that she has stuck to the terza rima in which the original was written, sacrificing (she says) a little verbal accuracy in favour of retaining the speed and rhythm. She also explains at some length her approach to the rhyme-scheme and metre, her use of a wide range of English vocabulary including some colloquial phrases, and the ways in which she has tried to preserve the humour and tone of the original. I think that Sayers achieved great success in this: the vocabulary is gloriously rich, ranging from phrases which are positively Shakespearean all the way to the contemporary vernacular, and just about everything in between. The poetry is evocative and flows well, and the various tones and changes of mood are superbly conveyed.The book has extensive notes on the significant people encountered by the character of Dante in his journey through hell, and on the symbolism and imagery used by Dante the writer, which are not only engaging and well-written but also exceedingly useful. The introduction sets out the historical context in some detail, which is also very helpful: I could have given a detailed history of the Guelfs and Ghibellines ten years ago, but this time I was more than a little reliant on this introductory information to refresh my memory. The diagrams and maps of Dante's hell are also beneficial, as is the glossary of all the characters encountered. Together, the poetry and notes make this a very accessible translation for those who are unused to poetry, unfamiliar with the historical figures, or both. I found the story (if I can call it that) to be more easily understood than I had expected it to be, and also more entertaining than I had anticipated. I did, however, find that the various circles of hell began to merge together in my mind as in some cases there was either little detail given about them or they were very similar to other circles. I expected most of the symbolism in the book to pass me by - most symbolism generally does - but between Dante's own explanations and that in the notes I was able to appreciate far more than I expected to, and to overlook much less than I feared. The commentary on the political situation at the time, as well as that on the Church, is very definitely partisan - but is nonetheless insightful. I have the remainder of the Divine Comedy in the Sayers translation awaiting me on the shelf, and am now very definitely looking forward to reading it.
anodos99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent (rhyming) translation of Dante's epic by Dorothy L. Sayers. Very easy to read. The commentaries between cantos (by Sayers and heavily influenced by Charles Williams) are of great value for understanding both the social setting of the work and the deep philosophical and mythological imagery.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alegeheri, the author describes his visit to the underworld, of Hell. Accompanied by Virgil, his companion, he is transported to the under realm where sinners are punished. He travels to nine cirlces for the nine sins. He visits the circle of hypocrits and vivdly describes how every day, the sinners walk in circles chained together and every day, get their heads chopped off. Then Dante hears a mournful bugle call, more mournful then when Charlegmagne lost he said. The Inferno is an execellent story if you want to learn about life after death.