Author: Dante Alighieri
Translator: Sang-jin Park
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About This Book
Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human
drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell,
up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise-the
sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.
The Divine Comedy (in Italian "Comedia" or "Commedia", later christened "Divina" by Giovanni Boccaccio), written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321, is widely considered the greatest epic poem of Italian literature, and one of the greatest of world literature. Its influence is so great that it affects the Christian view of the afterlife to this day.
The Divine Comedy is composed of three canticas (or "cantiche"), Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise), composed respectively of 34, 33, and 33 cantos. The first canto of Inferno serves as an introduction to the entire Divine Comedy, making each of the canticas 33 cantos long. The number 3 is prominent in the work, represented here by the length of each cantica. Also, that they add up to 100 cantos is not accidental. The verse scheme used, terza rima, is the hendecasyllable (line of eleven syllables), with the lines composing tercets according to the rhyme scheme ABA BCB CDC . . . YZY Z.
The poet tells in the first person his travel through the three realms of the dead, lasting during Holy Week in the spring of 1300. His guide through Hell and Purgatory is the Latin poet Virgil, author of The Aeneid, and the guide through Paradise is Beatrice, Dante's ideal of a perfect woman. Beatrice is named after a woman other than Dante's wife, with whom he was not believed to have been involved; he merely admired her from afar, never acting on these desires.
In this edition, the translation is presented in prose rather than the verse as in the original, making it far more accessible and readable to general public including teenagers.
About The Author
Dante Alighieri was considered Italy's greatest poet. He is the author of the three canticles, The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso, along with La Vita Nuova. He died in 1321. John Ciardi was a distinguished poet and professor, having taught at Harvard and Rutgers universities, and is a poetry editor of The Saturday Review. He was a winner of the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award and the Prix de Rome.
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