An introduction to Dante

The 13th century: commerce, urbanization, growth, and success
Italy in the 13th century: in the middle of the action
Florence: great success in the period from 1250 to 1300; introduction of the florin
Dante: 1265–1321


The Mandelbaum translation is the best for our class. Its value is that it gives you an English and an Italian version on facing pages at a reasonable price.


The Divine Comedy: Inferno,

translated by Allen Mandelbaum,

Bantam Classic,

ISBN 0553213393

Why choose this translation from among the 100's that exist? Read these comments:

Review "The English Dante of choice."--Hugh Kenner.

"Exactly what we have waited for these years, a Dante with clarity, eloquence, terror, and profoundly moving depths."--Robert Fagles, Princeton University

"Tough and supple, tender and violent . . . vigorous, vernacular . . . Mandelbaum's Dante will stand high among modern translations."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Lovers of the English language will be delighted by this eloquently accomplished enterprise." --Book Review Digest

From the Publisher: This splendid verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum provides an entirely fresh experience of Dante's great poem of penance and hope. As Dante ascends the Mount of Purgatory toward the Earthly Paradise and his beloved Beatrice, through "that second kingdom in which the human soul is cleansed of sin," all the passion and suffering, poetry and philosophy are rendered with the immediacy of a poet of our own age. With extensive notes and commentary prepared especially for this edition.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: There is a good biography of Dante written by the late R. W. B. Lewis, Dante (ISBN 0670899097) and it is excellent and exactly what many of you will want: a short (200 pages), well-written, inexpensive ($19.95) biography of Dante. It is perfect for our course and although I don't want to make it a required book, I am sure that anyone who buys it will be happy they did.

R. W. B. Lewis,


Viking Books,

ISBN 0670899097