INFERNO by Dante Alighieri, Translation by Mary Jo Bang


Woah! What a ride! I always wanted to read Dante’s Inferno. Well, actually, I always wanted to have read it, I think. Not certain I would have ever gotten to it were it not for Mary Jo Bang’s stunning translation. We all know the story so I won’t go into that, but what makes this translation so stunning is the freshness of the language. Bang plays off of the original text and nearly 600 years of subsequent translations – and her own poetic sensibilities – to bring us an epic poem that is readable, engaging, and surprisingly funny. True to the text and also sprinkled with modern references that stopped me in my tracks, leaving me both giddy and grateful. Each canto is followed by several pages of notes, which I mostly bypassed, choosing instead to follow the rhythms of the cantos without needing to understand everything I was reading. It worked for me.

And then, oh my! the illustrations. They are both horrifying and intriguing, unbelievably grotesque and riveting. Much like the tale, one simply cannot look away.

A note of gratitude to Helena de Groot, whose conversation with Mary Jo Bang on Poetry Off the Shelf led me to this . Will take a reading break with something utterly different and then dive into Purgatorio.

2 comments on “INFERNO by Dante Alighieri, Translation by Mary Jo Bang”

  1. Kamil, Georgia Peach Pie and I listened to Dante’s Inferno while driving to CA from PA, moving across the country. It was bitter cold in the middle of America and the vibe fit — thanks for bringing me back to that memory! This looks like a great way to approach this epic read– thanks for sharing, JNaz 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was bold, borkali. All of it. The move, the timing, listening to Dante while driving. Woah.

      …bitter cold in the middle of America… Sounds like the beginning of something.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s