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In this brilliant and highly accessible new translation of the Inferno, Elio Zappulla successfully re-creates the immediacy, directness, and psychological force of Dante’s original text. Zappulla’s faithfulness to Dante’s Italian is matched by an unobtrusive and beautifully executed commitment to convey to today’s reader, through the lyrical cadences of everyday American English, the emotional and aesthetic impact of Dante’s masterwork. At the same time, the reader is never allowed to lose sight of the Inferno’s intellectual majesty and moral grandeur.
Universally acknowledged as the greatest poem of the European Middle Ages, The Divine Comedy also marks the first time the vernacular was used in the high Western literary tradition to express ultimate issues of being and transcendence. Uniting the most powerful energies of popular culture and magnificent gothic edifice of Medieval scholasticism, Dante created a new language that combined an intense lyricism with the intellectual seriousness demanded of the his project—nothing less than the creation of a Christian epic addressed to the common reader. Dante’s synthesis of epic with lyric has bequeathed to modern artists and translators a permanent imperative to translate his art into contemporary , living speech.
The edition of the Inferno is illustrated by the paintings of Gregory Gillespie, a contemporary artist who has been engaged with Dante’s writings and imaginative world throughout his career. They provide a complementary means of meditating on the continuing meanings and resonances of one of the defining works of art of the Western tradition.
PRAISE FOR Zapulla’s translation of The Inferno:
“Zapulla’s version...offers an elegant, accessible reading of one of the great moral texts in the Western canon.... It should find a home among scholars and students, beginners and aficionados for its reasoned, affectionate interpretation of the great poet's masterwork.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“An unexpected and glorious gift. The love of Dante comes through in the text—every line carefully, beautifully translated.”
—Wallace Fowlie, Duke University
“Zappulla’s translation is the right one for our time. Dante speaks again—in the vernacular. This Inferno breathes with every bit of its old lyrical life. All the horror and all the beauty have returned. Read the Inferno as one must: by keeping Paradise in mind. Zappulla has made it possible.”
—Barry Sanders, Pitzer College, author of A Is for Ox