Congrats to Peter Thornton, whose new verse translation of Dante’s Inferno is published today from Arcade.
One of the world’s transcendent literary masterpieces, the Inferno tells the timeless story of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of hell, guided by the poet Virgil, when in midlife he strays from his path in a dark wood. In this vivid verse translation into contemporary English, Peter Thornton makes the classic work fresh again for a new generation of readers. Recognizing that the Inferno was, for Dante and his peers, not simply an allegory but the most realistic work of fiction to date, he points out that hell was a lot like Italy of Dante’s time. Thornton’s translation captures the individuals represented, landscapes, and psychological immediacy of the dialogues as well as Dante’s poetic effects.
The product of decades of passionate dedication and research, his translation has been hailed by the leading Dante scholars on both sides of the Atlantic as exceptional in its accuracy, spontaneity, and vividness. Those qualities and its detailed notes explaining Dante’s world and references make it accessible for individual readers.
Praise for the book:
Thornton’s new translation of Dante’s Inferno immediately joins ranks with the very best available in English. Opting for unrhymed blank verse, the translator succeeds in capturing the poet’s first-person narrative voice with unusual accuracy, spontaneity, and vividness, rendering the otherworld journey with vigor and a flair for the dramatic without ever sounding either strained or unduly creative. Succinct and balanced end-of-canto notes adeptly elucidate historical, classical, and theological references, making this volume a choice contender for both college and general reading audiences.” —Richard Lansing, Professor Emeritus of Italian Studies and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University, translator of Dante’s Lyric Poetry and The Dante Encyclopedia
Peter Thornton’s eminently readable Inferno combines accuracy, elegance, and vitality, while its accompanying notes situate the poem effectively in its critical and wider cultural contexts.” —Dr. Tristan Kay, lecturer at the University of Bristol and author of Dante’s Lyric Redemption
Thornton’s very readable and accurate verse translation of The Inferno captures much of the drama and psychological nuances of Dante’s poem. The extensive notes provide a wealth of critical insights, as well as an especially good guide to the poem’s historical and literary references and to the centuries-long commentary tradition, medieval and modern.” —Christopher Kleinhenz, professor emeritus of Italian and author of Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia
Peter Thornton attended a Jesuit prep school in Manhattan, where the curriculum was based on Latin and Greek. After graduating from Boston College, he earned his PhD from Stanford University. He taught college English for several years before becoming a lawyer. The intellectual rigor of the law did not satisfy his hunger for poetry and he has spent decades translating the works of Dante and Petrarch into English verse. He currently resides in Evanston, Illinois.
Dante Alighieri, born in Florence in 1265, became one of the leading lyric poets in Italy as a young man. He was exiled for political reasons, and in the last fifteen years of his life composed The Divine Comedy, of which the Inferno is the most-read part today.