Dante s Inferno, The Indiana Critical Edition
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319 pages

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A classic translation with critical essays by leading scholars.

This new critical edition, including Mark Musa's classic translation, provides students with a clear, readable verse translation accompanied by ten innovative interpretations of Dante's masterpiece.



Publié par
Date de parution 22 juin 1995
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9780253012401
Langue English

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Dante s

Dante s
The Indiana Critical Edition
Translated and edited by
Mark Musa
Indiana University Press
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
601 North Morton Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
Telephone orders 800-842-6796
Fax orders 812-855-7931
Orders by e-mail iuporder@indiana.edu
1995 by Indiana University Press
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321.
[Inferno. English]
Dante s Inferno : the Indiana critical edition / translated and
edited by Mark Musa.
p. cm. - (Indiana masterpiece editions)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-253-33943-0 (cloth). - ISBN 978-0-253-20930-6 (pbk.)
1. Hell-Poetry. 2. Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. Inferno.
3. Hell in literature. I. Musa, Mark. II. Title. III. Series.
PQ4315.2.M775 1995
851 .1-dc20 94-20237
7 8 9 10 12 11
For Alec Marc Musa on his entrance to the world
translated by Mark Musa
Critical Essays
Read It and (Don t) Weep: Textual Irony in the Inferno , BY LAWRENCE BALDASSARO
Dante s Beloved Yet Damned Virgil , BY GUY P. RAFFA
Inferno I: Breaking the Silence , BY DENISE HEILBRONN-GAINES
Dante s Inferno, Canto IV , BY AMILCARE A. IANNUCCI
Behold Francesca Who Speaks So Well ( Inferno V) , BY MARK MUSA
Iconographic Parody in Inferno XXI , BY CHRISTOPHER KLEINHENZ
Virgil and Dante as Mind-Readers ( Inferno XXI and XXIII) , BY ROBERT HOLLANDER
The Plot-Line of Myth in Dante s Inferno , BY RICARDO J. QUINONES
Hell as the Mirror Image of Paradise , BY JOAN M. FERRANTE
Dante in the Cinematic Mode: An Historical Survey of Dante Movies , BY JOHN P. WELLE
Selected Bibliography: Inferno
Accompanying my verse translation of Dante s Inferno are ten essays which offer diverse approaches to a number of different aspects of the first canticle of the Divine Comedy.
In the opening essay Lawrence Baldassaro regards the starting point that necessitates the pilgrim s difficult journey through Hell to be the allegorical landscape of Canto I of Inferno, a physical manifestation of the pilgrim s contaminated soul. Because of his fallen condition, the way up and out of the selva oscura is closed. Climbing the hill is impossible because of the pilgrim s pride, which will be erased in Purgatory in a similarly allegorical setting. Baldassaro asks, if Inferno is a representation of universal sinfulness and Purgatory a point-by-point erasure of sin, how does Inferno exhibit these sins? The allegory of Canto I gives way to dramatic manifestations, he says, in which the pilgrim interacts and gradually arrives at a subjective awareness of his own capacity for wrongdoing, recognizing step by step the degree of his own contamination. Dante uses himself as an example; he depicts his sinners not as awkward allegorical representations of specific sins, but as compelling human beings. The pilgrim s mimetic response to the sinners he encounters brings him and them to life dramatically, not didactically.
The allegorical first scene is negative potentiality and the rounds of Hell fulfillment of it. This is not a fact-finding journey the pilgrim is taking. His behavior that calls attention to itself reflects the ironic stance that distinguishes the voice of the poet from that of the pilgrim. Each of the sinners the pilgrim meets is a potential other self. The pilgrim is a reader who tests texts in the Inferno, one who cannot see the whole and whose limitations are indicated by his imitative responses. In turn, the reader is a pilgrim to whom Dante speaks directly in his addresses to the reader. But Baldassaro disagrees with Auerbach that Dante misleads us by misleading his protagonist; rather he gives us credit for being able to sort out the ironic duality of the distinct voices of the poet and pilgrim. The compelling reality of the action does not distract from the professed redemptive function of the poem, as Auerbach concluded, but is part of the poet s strategy part of the challenge he poses both to his protagonist and to his reader. The goal is to gain perspective by completing the journey. In XX, 19-26, for example, what seems a request for pity is instead a subtle acting out of the sin depicted, the pilgrim weeping for suffering which is God s just punishment. The pilgrim fails to read the text properly, allowing himself to be seduced and beguiled by sin. Why does Dante place stumbling blocks in the way of our understanding? To force us to work to understand him. Dante s characters in the Inferno, in fact, are sometimes so real they may seem to be living human beings temporarily misplaced in the eternal environment of Hell. However, they are not lead players but signs, leading the way to redemption; each one points out a necessary first step.
Guy P. Raffa stresses in his essay Virgil s importance for Dante as articulator of a shared political philosophy, as explorer of the fictional Underworld, and as prophet, but even more to the point, as a faulted man: a tragic figure whose intellectual, emotional and psychological complexity accounts for much of the dramatic energy of the Divine Comedy, especially in the Inferno. Dante mined Virgil for mythological, historical, and political material and for the mechanism, or structure, for translating his poetic vision into verse form. He created his own terza rima with Virgil s model in mind, borrowing from him extensively while transforming the material into something entirely new.
Raffa ranks Virgil s importance for Dante according to three measures: his poetic excellence first, then his wisdom regarding poetic truth, and lastly his susceptibility to falsehood. In the beginning, Dante refers and defers to Virgil as a respected author and authority, whose pagan religious views he will christianize in the Divine Comedy on the strength of the Fourth Eclogue (where the appearance of the virgin and new-born son will bring about a golden age). Dante s debt to him is so great that he attributes his own reputation to him and places him first among his teachers. His deep love for him is translated into situations in the Comedy that make for a believable and intimate reciprocity between the Comedy and the Aeneid. Dante s comparisons between his own enterprise and Virgil s epic are daring-yet prescient. (Virgil comes away, in a sense, second best. ) The Aeneid provides a primary source for Dante s imagery, for instance, the metamorphosis in Inferno XIII, which both poets used to dramatize history. The image is given a new form in the Inferno that both reaffirms Virgil and implies a critique of him that Raffa refers to as a staged competition.
Dante s christianizing of Virgil derives from the reputation of his Fourth Eclogue as prophecy, but Raffa finds a flip side to it in Virgil s popular reputation as a sorcerer. He hears an echo of Virgil s incantations at several points in the poem, even in Dante s verses describing his own celestial vision in Paradise XXXIII. Although Dante allows Virgil to restore his good name by defending himself, he does so ambiguously, showing him to be racking up new faults to correct the old. In Virgil s interactions with the pilgrim and the sinners they meet, the poet, prophet, historian and guide is sometimes revealed as the windy logician and alterer of facts, the superstitious naif and faulty reasoner who speaks and acts unpredictably in the windings of Hell. Deep in the recesses of fraud, Virgil is shown to be not only a flawed figure but a comic one whose dignity is gravely compromised in subtle and not so subtle ways. In this sense, Raffa concludes, the pilgrim learns at Virgil s expense in the Inferno. And the reader gains as the Latin poet emerges in his complexity, brought down to our level as fully human.
What is Hell good for? Denise Heilbronn-Gaines in her critical essay on the opening canto of the Divine Comedy offers an answer to this question with an in-depth study of the canto s language, symbols and extended meanings for the Inferno. She concludes by taking a fresh look at the first words actually spoken in the poem by the pilgrim, miserere di me, which break the silence that has weakened the pilgrim s sight. Canto I finds the pilgrim in a negative moral landscape which Dante evokes to terrify both reader and pilgrim, not only because of its bleak aspect and threatening beasts but because of its familiarity as nightmarish dream: there is no way out of it without help. What the pilgrim sees is a dark wood, low valley, and distant inaccessible hilltop lit by the sun, all symbolically suggestive, all seeming to mean something more than themselves while lacking a clearly objective reality of their own. In addition to being visually shrouded in this darkness, to which the pilgrim s eyes gradually adjust, the landscape is also deprived of sound; in fact, its striking feature, Heilbronn-Gaines points out, is its silence. E

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