Describing Dante's descent into Hell midway through his life with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls including the pagan Aeneas, the liar Odysseus, the suicide Cleopatra, and his own political enemies, damned for their deceit. Led by leering demons, the poet must ultimately journey with Virgil to the deepest level of all. For it is only by encountering Satan, in the heart of Hell, that he can truly understand the tragedy of sin.
‘Kirkpatrick’s introduction and canto-by-canto notes are remarkably level and lucid, as attentive to syntax, language and motif, and deftly cross-reference the poem. On their own, they would justify the price… Kirkpatrick’s ability to enliven even doctrinal discourse bodes well for the his final two instalments’