Publication Date: August 19, 2003
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A brilliant new translation of the centerpiece of The Divine Comedy
Purgatory, the mountain that straightens souls made crooked by the world, is Dante’s single most conceptually brilliant creation. Anthony Esolen’s vivid and innovative new rendering unearths Dante’s own voice with unprecedented vigor, accuracy, and a masterly use of English meter. It will set the standard for years to come.
Esolen’s Introduction incisively explores Dante’s theological universe: the nature of Purgatory, how Dante came to invent it, and how Purgatory is finally about restoration, liberation, and friendship. Special features, from an appendix that reproduces key sources to extensive explanatory notes, make this a particularly illuminating edition for both expert and newcomer.
Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College. He is a published poet who has written numerous scholarly articles on Renaissance and medieval literature. He is the author of Peppers, a book of poetry, and his translations include Lucretius’s De rerum natura and Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, along with Dante’s Inferno, published by the Modern Library.
Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet whose masterpiece The Divine Comedy has exerted a profound influence on Western thought, was born in Florence in May 1265. He entered public life in 1295, later becoming one of the six governing magistrates of Florence. He repeatedly opposed the machinations of Pope Boniface VIII, who was attempting to place all of Tuscany under Papal control, and in 1301 was banished from Florence on trumped-up charges. Dante would never enter his native city again, spending his remaining years with a series of patrons in various courts in Italy. He completed The Divine Comedy shortly before his death in September 1321.
Praise for Anthony Esolen’s translation of Inferno
“The sheer intelligence and verve Esolen brings to the task makes him a contender against all comers. . . . If there is any justice in the world of books, [his] will be the standard Dante in the classroom and the home library for some time to come.” —Robert Royal, Crisis
“Anthony Esolen’s new translation follows Dante through all his spectacular range, commanding where he is commanding, wrestling, as he does, with the density and darkness in language and in the soul. It is living writing.” —James Richardson, Princeton University
“Professor Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Inferno is the best one I have seen. . . . And his endnotes and other additions provoke answers to almost any question that could arise about the work.” —A. Kent Hieatt, translator of The Canterbury Tales