11 thoughts on “So, which translation of Dante’s Inferno is best?

  1. Singleton. (Read with commentaries if able.) Singleton doesn’t force the Italian into an English terza rima. He’s a brilliant scholar and does a fantastic job conveying Dante’s meaning. It’s a translation especially helpful for those with little to no knowledge of Italian (language, culture or history). Of course, I wouldn’t stop at the Inferno. One of the most engaging elements of the Divine Comedy is learning that much of what Dante thinks and says in Hell is misguided until his intellect is enlightened as he progresses towards Paradiso.

  2. Don’t know if you’ve seen this, but http://wmjas.blogspot.com/2010/02/fifteen-translations-of-dante-compared.html is a pretty good resource for this kind of question. The Hollander translation is also readable for free here (http://www.princeton.edu/dante/), with parallel Italian text. Also, about the Singleton, while I’ve heard very good things about his translation, it’s a prose rendering, and it’s also quite relatively expensive, especially if you’re also assigning the commentaries, so that might be a factor for class use.

  3. I like Esolen’s. I think it manages to get a nice flow in English, which also respects the movement of the Italian. This might sound like a minor accomplishment, but I really think it isn’t.

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