To the Reader of this Commentary:
This Commentary, a personal synthesis, is the fruit of many years of teaching and research. My goal is to direct you toward aspects of the Divine Comedy that I have found particularly worthy of exploration, as well as to open up new avenues of research and study.
I hope also to promote your enjoyment of the Commedia as our premier virtual reality: a text that proclaims the union of the word to the history it recounts (Inf. 32.12).
Because this Commentary has a strong point of view, I have included Coordinated Readings from my scholarly works that can offer more detail and perspectives on the issues raised here. In general, Dante’s Poets (1984) is referenced for the Virgilio storyline that runs through the Commedia, while The Undivine Comedy (1992) buttresses the narratological analysis. Other essays are cited as appropriate.
The translation is that of Allen Mandelbaum, a wonderful poet in English whose translation of the Commedia catches the rhythm and cadence of Dante’s language. Allen believed in Digital Dante from its first inception in the early 1990s, when I proposed to him that he might want to showcase his translation on our site. Occasionally, I substitute a more literal translation.
As of this writing, in July 2017, the Inferno is much longer than Purgatorio or Paradiso. My plan is to continue work on the latter cantiche when I teach the Commedia again, in the 2018-2019 academic year.