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In 1867, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published the first American edition of The Inferno, Dante was almost unknown in this country. The New England poet and educator, who taught Italian literature at Harvard, introduced Dante's literary genius to the New World with this vibrant blank verse translation of the first and most popular book of the three-part Divine Comedy. Expressed in haunting poetry of great emotional power, The Inferno chronicles Dante's passage through nine circles of the underworld and his encounters with tormented sinners. Combining Aristotelian philosophy, mythology, Roman Catholicism, and thirteenth-century Italian politics, this landmark of world literature forms a unique synthesis of the Christian, classical, and secular worlds.
Dante's depictions of hell and its grotesque punishments found their ideal match in the hands of the eminent nineteenth-century illustrator Gustave Doré. Unable to find a sponsor, the artist published his stunning engravings for The Inferno at his own expense. An instant and enduring success, Doré's images made a lasting impression on the public imagination. This volume's enchanting translation and unforgettable illustrations offer readers a perfect blend of literary and artistic skill.