Special Collections at UWM Libraries Special Collections Home Page
Inferno, Canto I: Midway upon the journey of our life/ I found myself within a forest dark,/ For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Alighieri, Dante, 1265-1321.
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri; Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Leipzig: Berhard Tauchnitz, 1867.
Call Number: (RARE) PQ 4315 .L7 1867b
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library

This is a volume from the first authorized edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It includes an autograph inscription to the Duke of Sermoneta "from the Translator."

This translation is the first blank verse translation in which the terzine were distinguished by indention in print. The accuracy of this translation is considered excellent. The harshest critique of many contemporary critics was Longfellow's decision not to include an introduction. Longfellow later wrote:

With the compliments and regards of the Translator
The only merit my book has is that it is exactly what Dante says, and not what the translator imagines he might have said if he had been an Englishman. In other words, while making it rhythmic, I have endeavoured to make it also as literal as a prose translation . . . The business of a translator is to report what the author says, not to explain what he means; that is the work of the commentator. What an author says, and how he says it, that is the problem of the translator.

Back - Next

Return to top

©2001 University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee -- All Rights Reserved.
Prepared by Christopher Barth, Virginia Haas, and Sarah McDaniel