A New Translation
Dante Alighieri; A New Translation by Mary Jo Bang; Illustrated by Henrik Drescher
An Academy of American Poets Notable Book of 2012

One of the Kansas City Star's Top 100 Books of 2012
“Being an excellent poet in her own right, [Bang] succeeds in giving the Inferno’s narrative drama an energetic idiom that gets the poem moving, and at times even dancing, on the page. . . .The result is one of the most readable and enjoyable versions of the Inferno of our time.”The New York Review of Books

About the Book

“This will be the Dante for the next generation,” now available in paperback (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Stopped mid-motion in the middle
Of what we call our life, I looked up and saw no sky—
Only a dense cage of leaf, tree, and twig. I was lost.
                        —from Canto I
“The only good Hell to be in right now is poet Mary Jo Bang’s innovative, new translation of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated with drawings by Henrik Drescher. Bang’s thrillingly contemporary translation of the first part (the juiciest part) of Alighieri’s fourteenth-century poem The Divine Comedy is indeed epic. . . . Once you embark on this journey, you may wish to read not only all of Mary Jo Bang’s work but all of Dante’s, too.”—Vanity Fair
“Imagine a contemporary translation of Dante that includes references to Pink Floyd, South Park, Donald Rumsfeld, and Star Trek. Now imagine that this isn’t gimmicky. . . . Imagine instead that the old warhorse is now scary again, and perversely funny, and lyrical and faux-lyrical in a way that sounds sometimes like Auden, sometimes like Nabokov, but always like Mary Jo Bang.”—BOMB

Additional Reviews

"Where Dante looked to the politics and culture of his contemporary Italy for allusions to illustrate his sense of faith and morality, Bang mines American pop and high culture. Yes, traditionalists and scholars may shriek upon seeing Eric Cartman (of South Park fame), sculptures by Rodin, John Wayne Gacy, and many others make anachronistic cameos in Bang's version of Hell, but this is still very much Dante's underworld, updated so it pops on today's page. The result is an epic both fresh and historical, scholarly and irreverent. . . . This will be Dante for the next generation."Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Gives new reason to re-examine Dante's masterpiece . . . Bang provides cantos of great clarity and grace."Dallas Morning News
"Bang's hell is our culture, the numbing proliferation of texts, images, meaning, interpretations. For her, the perfervid busyness of our culture leads to a deadening akin to spiritual numbness. Hence the allusions to everything from Woody Allen's 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' to the Boy Scouts to frozen Jell-O to the Hotel California—these are fragments that have shored up against our ruins, to borrow from T.S. Eliot, who knew a thing or two about Dante, and death, and fittingly appears several times in these pages."New York Daily News
"[Bang's Inferno] works well stylistically and brings fresh light for seeing just how relevant Dante's work was to his own time and place while proving how it might be seen as pertinent to our own era."NewPages
“Wonderfully evocative to a contemporary reader. . . .Bang did something incredibly smart before she coaxed Dante's corpse to sit up and sing for us: She taught him how to talk like us. Hell is more appealing in the form of a mirror.”The Stranger
"This new translation of the Inferno, now straight narrative, now lyric, now echoing a phrase from one of a 'many-headed multitude' of other poets, offers at once Mary Jo Bang's own recurring poetic voice, a delectation of other voices from our poetic past, and the wealth of information in her many careful notes: it is a fresh and ingenious new incarnation of Dante's ever-captivating story, and from one line to the next a constantly rewarding pleasure to read."—Lydia Davis
One of the New Yorker's Best Books of the Year, selected by Rivka Galchen