Inferno edition by Easton Press


Translation by Clive James

Illustrations by Marc Burckhardt

Easton Press

Translation of The Divine Comedy with Illustrations (2007)

translation-divine-comedy-illustrations-2007“This new edition of Dante’s great work brings together for the first time the three volumes of the Hollander translation with the art of internationally recognized illustrator Monika Beisner. Beisner has created 100 detailed paintings for this publication, making her the first woman credited with illustrating the entire work. The set begins with an introduction by Carlo Carena and a foreword by Academy Award winning actor Roberto Benigni, known for his lectures and dramatic recitations of Dante’s poem. The third volume ends with an appreciation by writer and cultural historian Marina Warner entitled ‘Monika Beisner: Illuminating Stories.’ Warner writes, ‘The hundred miniatures took her seven years to complete and the achievement is dazzling. The present volume reproduces her work full-size, … with no strokes or drawing visible, but a pure glow of dense color, applied with brushes so small they consist of a half-dozen sable hairs.… Monika Beisner has been scrupulously loyal to Dante’s text, rendering gesture and position as described in the poem as well as its unsurpassed precision of spatial, geographical and temporal coordinates.’ ” [. . .]    —Oak Knoll Press

Inferno Rap Translation by Hugo (2013)

Hugo_InfernoRap_coverIn July 2013, Melbourne-based hip hop artist Hugo released a rap translation of the first six cantos of Inferno.  Here is Hugo’s description of the project:

“Immortal innovators of the artform such as Rakim, Talib Kweli, Eminem, KRS One, Mos Def, Nas, Notorious BIG, Tupac Shakur and Pharoahe Monch, took this rap rhyming to incredible depths, exploring all angles of their own vernacular, spitting intricate multi-syllable rhymed verses over irresistible hip hop beats and delivering their version of the Dolce Stil Novo to an insatiable world, and in the process proving, like Dante, that their Vulgar vernacular could have global relevance in its eloquence.

“So, to this project. The basic agenda being simply to retranslate the Inferno using some of the forms of Rap – Multi-syllabic rhyme patterns, driving beats – to reengage with this epic medieval poem, and maybe contribute to garnering it a new audience. [ . . . ]” — YouTube

See the videos with lyrics here.

To listen to the full album, click here.

Contributed by Janet Gomez (PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 2015)

Kevin Molin, “Inferno Infernale” (2013)


A reading of Canto I of Dante’s Inferno after several translatory metamorphoses via Google Translate: from Italian to Albanian, to Bengali, to Filipino, to Urdu, to Arabic, to Romanian, to Swahili – and the whole way back.


Beginning of transcript:

La nascita del nostro viaggio vita
Ho nero
Vi è una perdita diretta.
Ah, come va intesa
Foreste, terra prima, è difficile
Ho paura che qualcuno potrebbe pensare che!
Questo è un po ‘più dolorosa a causa della morte;
Ma meglio di “Ho visto
Tra le altre cose, ho visto.
“Com’i reddito che non si può ri-
Non mi
Modo corretto.
Ma mentre camminavo la montagna,
Valle Annulla
Ho rotto il mio cuore a temere,
No spalla
“National Self-raggi
Tutto il percorso.
Paura Alituliza
Lake City Center

See Soundcloud for the complete sound file and transcript.

“What the Hell: Dante in Translation and in Dan Brown’s New Novel”

what-the-hell-dante-in-translation-and-in-dan-browns-new-novel“People can’t seem to let go of the Divine Comedy. You’d think that a fourteenth-century allegorical poem on sin and redemption, written in a medieval Italian vernacular and in accord with the Scholastic theology of that period, would have been turned over, long ago, to the scholars in the back carrels. But no. By my count there have been something like a hundred English-language translations, and not just by scholars but by blue-chip poets: in the past half century, John Ciardi, Allen Mandelbaum, Robert Pinsky, W. S. Merwin. Liszt and Tchaikovsky have composed music about the poem; Chaucer, Balzac, and Borges have written about it. In other words, the Divine Comedy is more than a text that professors feel has to be brushed up periodically for students. It’s one of the reasons there are professors and students.” [. . .]    –Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, May 27, 2013

Mary Jo Bang’s New Translation of Dante’s Inferno

mary-jo-bangs-new-translation-of-dantes-inferno     mary-jo-bangs-new-translation-of-dantes-inferno

“. . .Bang worked on the project for six years after being inspired by Caroline Bergvall’s poem, Via (48 Dante Variations), which is composed entirely of those first three lines from 47 different translations.
‘How might the lines sound if I were to put them into colloquial English? What if I were to go further and add elements of my own poetic style?’ Bang writes in her note on the translation. ‘Would it sound like a cover song, the words of the original unmistakably there, but made unfamiliar by the fact that someone else’s voice has its own characteristics? Could it be, like covers sometimes are, a tribute that pays homage to the original, while at the same time radically departing from it?'” [. . .]    –Mike Melia, PBS Newshour, November 2, 2012

Contributed by Julie Heyman

Clive James to Translate Dante’s Commedia

clive-james-commedia-translation“‘In a way, I’ve spent my whole life training for it,’ Mr. James said. He first fell in love with ‘The Divine Comedy’ in Florence in the 1960s, when the scholar Prue Shaw, who was then his girlfriend and is now his wife, read romantic passages aloud to him from Canto 5 of the ‘Inferno’ in the original Italian. . . ‘Dante is very compact, and there’s so much going on in a tight space that you’d swear you were reading a modern poet,’ Mr. James continued. ‘The temptation for any Italian poet is just outright lyricism, because the language is so beautiful. But Dante is never beautiful for its own sake, and every sentence, every line, is loaded with incident and meaning and wordplay.'” [. . .]    –Sarah Lyall, The New York Times, October 7, 2012

See also:
– “Clive James: By the Book,” The New York Times, April 11, 2013
– “This Could Be ‘Heaven,’ or This Could Be ‘Hell'” by Joseph Luzzi, The New York Times, April 19, 2013
– “The Divine Comedy” by Allen Barra, Truth Dig, April 26, 2013

Contributed by Pamela Montanaro

Roberta Delaney, “Translations and Transformations”

“‘Translations and Transformations’ is a journey with two destinations: Dante’s and mine. Dante’s Divine Comedy was written at in the early 14th century, in Italian, and in verse. He is the narrator and main character. Since 1812 when it was first translated into English, this long poem of 100 Cantos has been translated continuously just in English. Dante’s journey takes us down into the many levels of the Inferno (the Pope is next to Satan); we leave the Inferno climb a mountain out of Purgatory leading to Paradise. Dante has completed his journey and returns to earth, content.
I have also completed my journey. The Divine Comedy is still being translated because within the poem’s tight geometric structure, Dante has exposed the flaws of human nature. He was a Catholic, but highly critical of the clergy. In the wider sense, pride is still with us as is greed. This is a universal work of art that resonates in today’s living language and, fortunately via translators, for future generations.
There are twenty-six etchings in ‘Translations and Transformations’, it is bound and all the text is letterpress printed. The Italian text is printed in light gray, the English translations in black. Open, the size is 13″high X 37”wide.”    —Roberta Delaney

Caroline Bergvall, Dante Variations

caroline-bergvall-dante-variations“As of May, 2000 the British Library housed 48 different translations of Dante’s Inferno into English.

“Poet and sound artist Caroline Bergvall gathers the opening lines of each translation in her sound piece VIA (48 Dante Variations).

“Bergvall reads the opening of each translation then names the translator and the date of the publication. The result is powerful. The overarching monotony sprinkled with the subtlety of each translation and the hypnotic drone of Bergvall’s voice leaves the listener transfixed as they await the next rendering of Dante’s lines. The piece conveys the inherent complexity of the art of translation and illuminates the uniqueness of each translator’s work.”    –Michael Lieberman, Book Patrol, December 15, 2009

Read Bergvall’s piece at

Listen to the performance


Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Electronic Arts Re-Releasing Longfellow’s Translation

dantes-inferno-longfellow-edition“There’s a new edition of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ that’s recently begun appearing in bookstores. Same words. Different cover. It’s got a big picture of a muscular fellow in a spiky crown and an overline that says, ‘The literary classic that inspired the epic video game.'” [. . .]    –Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times, January 29, 2010