The Inferno (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Inferno (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


$8.76 $10.95 Save 20% Current price is $8.76, Original price is $10.95. You Save 20%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, October 18


The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The Inferno remains literature’s most hallowed and graphic vision of Hell. Dante plunges readers into this unforgettable world with a deceptively simple—and now legendary—tercet:

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

With these words, Dante plunges readers into the unforgettable world of the Inferno—one of the most graphic visions of Hell ever created. In this first part of the epic The Divine Comedy, Dante is led by the poet Virgil down into the nine circles of Hell, where he travels through nightmare landscapes of fetid cesspools, viper pits, frozen lakes, and boiling rivers of blood and witnesses sinners being beaten, burned, eaten, defecated upon, and torn to pieces by demons. Along the way he meets the most fascinating characters known to the classical and medieval world—the silver-tongued Ulysses, lustful Francesca da Rimini, the heretical Farinata degli Uberti, and scores of other intriguing and notorious figures.

This edition of the Inferno revives the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translation, which first introduced Dante’s literary genius to a broad American audience. “Opening the book we stand face to face with the poet,” wrote William Dean Howells of Longfellow’s Dante, “and when his voice ceases we may marvel if he has not sung to us in his own Tuscan.” Lyrically graceful and brimming with startlingly vivid images, Dante’s Inferno is a perpetually engrossing classic that ranks with the greatest works of Homer and Shakespeare.

Features a map of Hell and illustrations by Gustave Doré.

Peter Bondanella is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian at Indiana University and a past president of the American Association for Italian Studies. His publications include a number of translations of Italian classics, books on Italian Renaissance literature and Italian cinema, and a dictionary of Italian literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080518
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 09/01/2003
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 6,684
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Peter Bondanella's Introduction to The Inferno

Church doctrine in Dante’s time (as today) holds that Hell’s function is to punish for eternity human souls who died in mortal sin without a sincere confession of their faults that expresses repentance for their misdeeds. These miscreants do not qualify for the purifying punishments of Purgatory, where souls who do not die in mortal sin escape eternal damnation and suffer temporary expiation before receiving their blissful reward in Paradise. When Dante began his poem, he was certainly aware of biblical and classical views of the afterlife. In the Sheol of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Hades of classical antiquity, souls after death did not really receive retribution for their earthly sins or particularly attractive rewards for their earthly merits. But the Christian church, affirmed by the theology of such major writers as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, conceived of Hell as a place where the good were separated from the evil, and deeds on earth were weighted and judged. Dante’s famous notice over the gate of Hell underlines the eternity of Hell’s punishment (“All hope abandon, ye who enter in!”), but it is also clear from a reading of the entire poem that Dante considers the greatest punishment possible to be not the incredibly original and grotesque physical punishments he invents for his work but, instead, the eternal loss of communion with God that is enjoyed by the blessed.

Dante’s poetic genius partly resides in his many ingenious inventions for the shape and character of Hell. Dante’s Inferno is a hollow cone shaped by the displaced territory after Lucifer’s expulsion from Heaven and fall to Earth. It is situated under Jerusalem and consists of nine concentric circles that grow ever smaller and house more and more evil sinners. Ultimately, Hell ends at Earth’s core, where Lucifer is imprisoned in ice. Contrary to popular opinion, fire and brimstone are not the typical infernal punishments, although they are present. The place is filled with a number of rivers, swamps, deserts, a burning plain, a huge waterfall, a frozen lake, the towers of the City of Dis, and the ditches and bridges of Malebolge (ten sections of a circle shaped like ditches, pouches, or purses). Because the science of Dante’s day followed the Ptolemaic system of the universe in astronomy and Aristotle’s teachings on physics and biology, Dante considered Hell to be in the center of Earth, which in turn was in the center of the universe, with the sun revolving around it. A great chain of being extended from gross matter, animals, and humanity to the nine orders of the angels, and then to God in the Empyrean Heaven. Dante’s Inferno generally reflects traditional medieval thinking on astronomy and science, but the poet is also capable of enriching this tradition with his own ideas to enliven his picture of the Other World.

The most important rule in the Inferno, as well as in Purgatory and Paradise, is that Dante makes the rules. Laws can be broken or twisted to suit his poetic purposes, but they are always his alone. Such inventive details, often created by the author out of whole cloth, provide the reader with a rich, textured world of real individuals and a universe with its own specifically Dantesque regulations and customs. In many respects, Dante’s Inferno is not an unfamiliar place. Its most interesting inhabitants are not classical monsters, mythological figures, or heroes but instead are contemporary Italians, figures from all over the peninsula. It is an all too human world that we all immediately recognize as the one in which we live. Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that Hell is other people. Dante would have said: “We have met the damned, and they are we.”

Apart from all of the entertaining and ingenious “house rules” in Hell that Dante invented, one of the great intellectual achievements of Dante’s Inferno as a work of art is its original synthesis of the Christian and the classical worlds in Hell’s organization. For example, the idea of a visit to the Underworld was suggested to Dante by the obvious example of Virgil’s Aeneid. Since Virgil had been to Hell before, who else would be more qualified to guide an Italian poet who loved Virgil’s epic work on another journey through the same territory? Numerous specific physical punishments in Hell require guardians or bureaucrats (not to mention torturers enjoying their work), just as a prison requires jailors and executioners. Thus Dante employs a wide variety of classical figures to serve in this capacity, including Charon, Minos, and the centaurs. The rivers of Hell are those of classical antiquity (such as Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, and Lethe). Numerous classical figures, such as Alexander the Great, Brutus, Cassius, and Ulysses, appear in the various circles in which they suffer eternal damnation along with Dante’s contemporaries. No more heuristic juxtaposition of ancient and modern, classical and contemporary, will occur in Western literature until the sixteenth-century appearance of The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, two books by Niccolò Machiavelli that effect a similar synthesis by founding a new realistic view of politics upon comparative analyses of ancient Romans and contemporary Italy or Europe.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Inferno 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 409 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, once again, Aaron actually reads a classic. The last time this happened was, ummm..., a few years ago. Anyway, this time I tackled the famous recounting of one man's journey to Hell. The version I read used the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translation from the nineteenth century, which might have made things harder then they needed to be, as there were definitely some archaic words used. Not that the subject wasn't hard enough, considering that the book was written around 750 years ago. What I wasn't prepared for was how personal everything would be (for the author, not for me). See, Dante used this book (and most likely all of the Divine Comedy, of which The Inferno is just the first part) to take some rather serious pot shots at various people he didn't like, as well as showing favor to people that he did like. For example, many of Dante's political enemies find themselves in some rather interesting situations in hell, undergoing some rather perverse tortures for their sins in life. A number of classical philosphers and poets show up in Hell, too, which only makes sense considering that they died without acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ. However, because Dante likes these guys, they are only in the first circle of Hell, where things relatively aren't all that unpleasant (like Judas Iscariot, who gets eaten by Lucifer for all eternity. Lovely.). Lastly, I would like to note that the preface, the footnotes, and the endnotes were very helpful in getting a proper understanding for what was going on and putting it in the proper context. Props to whoever put that all together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your looking at this as a possible book to reread, get it. If you've never read The Inferno, BUY THIS COPY. Its the greatest poem in history, arguably the greatest work of art in history. It is epic, beautiful, amazing, and stimulating, intellectualy and emotionally. In ways, it is beyond flawless. Everything about this work: the writing, the story, the characters, the presentation, eben the preface is masterful. Buy it, and never sell it unless you can get another copy cheaper.
TwinsfanLR More than 1 year ago
Dante takes a journey through the 9 levels of hell with incredible dipictions of the tortures of each level... yeah if you can understand it. This was written in 1300 so obviously the writting is much different. I found it incredibly hard to read and if it hadnt been for the endnotes i would have finished and had no idea what i just read. The idea behind the book is briliant, i loved it, i just couldnt follow along very well. I learned a lot and it was interesting enough, but it is just a tough book to follow along with. If you have lots of time, READ IT, and good luck.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The writing in Dante¿s Inferno is beautiful, powerful, and effective. It was a little hard to comprehend, but I understood much of it. I thought the book was very excellent and fun to read. I would recommend it to anyone who finds fantasy interesting. The way God/Dante punishes the people in Hell is weird/interesting, but I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Inferno is an epic poem, rather than a novel. Written in the first person, Dante takes the reader through his version of Hell. As he descends, the sins become increasingly catastrophic. Comical at times, serious at times, but all around a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It probably took me a month to trudge through Dante's Inferno. That being said, it was probably one of the best books i have ever read, and I really wish there was a modern text version of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the fiery pits of the Wrathful, to the bitter, glacial tombs of the Traitors, Hell has a torturous domicile to accommodate sinners of all kinds for eternity. Dante Alighieri is considered by many to be one of the most brilliant writers of all time, and is credited with the transformation from Middle Age literature to the masterpieces of the Renaissance. The pinnacle of his writing career was “Dante’s Inferno”, which was published as part of his “Divine Comedy” in 1314. Dante’s brilliant epic poem explored the faults of humankind through the journey across Hell and the shortcomings of the main character.  The protagonist of the story is Dante, who is a poet that must pass through the nine circles of Hell in order to achieve salvation. He must cross over the circles of Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery/Betrayal, each more detestable than the last. Fortunately, Dante is guided by his perspicacious guide, Virgil, who comes to him as he is being attacked by animals and has lost his way – both literally and figuratively. As he traverses through the underworld, the faults of human civilization are exposed by each of the nine circles. To give example of each of these faults, Alighieri includes notable figures from history, literary works, and mythology, such as Alexander the Great and Helen, by placing them in the circle that they supposedly belong. In the novel, Dante frequently converses with these support characters in order to elucidate how to alleviate his sins. Additionally, these conversations provide insight as to the sins that each of these people represent and which human fault they symbolize. Furthermore, it can be argued that the character Dante does not wholly represent the author, but rather mankind itself, while Virgil represents God, as he guides Dante to salvation, which is similar to how God guides people to that same result.  These colloquies are pretty common and somewhat predictable (although the content and messages are not), as the poem follows a generally linear plot in which Dante enters the next circle, talks with the damned souls, deals with the challenges of the current situation, and moves on to the next circle. Consequently, the linear plot doesn’t build much suspense and the poem is met with a very anticlimactic end when Dante meets Lucifer.  The barren ending was a shortcoming of the book; however, it was still a brilliant work of literature. The clever symbolism in the book, such as when the punishment for avarice is pushing a boulder against another boulder, which is pointless like wealth, is particularly impressive. Additionally, the dark and hopeless atmosphere of the book is held throughout the book, as it never fails to remind the reader that he/she is in Hell. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't get this version. There is only a tiny fraction of the poem here. What a rip off!
Joseph Vinsky More than 1 year ago
Good soo mch fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dawson Latterner More than 1 year ago
i have the Dantes Inferno video game which is based on this and i really wanted to read this and i thought it was really good
thirsting_for_knowledge More than 1 year ago
i don't particularly like poetry, but this book is incredible. though the first canto is a little boring, it grabs you from the second canto all the way through to the 34th. the book can be a little hard to understand due to the translation by Longfellow into the older English of the time, but if you switch the words around a little bit, it tends to make better sense. this is a very gruesome, gorey, and depictive book of how Hell is. i recommend this for everyone who would like to see into the "9 levels" of Hell as portrayed by Dante.
mark82 More than 1 year ago
The Inferno is one of the best books I have read. Once I began reading it, I could not stop. Normally books written in this time period do not hold my interest, but Dante did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was great I L.O.V.E a book with symbolizism in it. This book is always misrepresented as one thing when its talking about something else. Dante biography is amazing. N his L.O.V.E for Beatrice was incredible. I had decided to do farther research on his life. From start to finish the book his life....both very wonderful. I enjoyed is a MUST READ!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all the books this literary form for a book is very difficult to maintain especially what is list in trabslation. Only two american novels ever made the best seller list in verse western star and one about civil war jackie kennedy was said to have memorized one for her present to groom
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this book to my sister. I haven't heard from her since, so it must be good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It doesn't read well. There are too many Anglo-French choices when more contemporary words could have worked better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's much faster reading the Inferno on the Nook than the paper book because of the footnote links. But all around a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago