[T]he only good Hell to be in right now is poet Mary Jo Bangâ€™s innovative, new translation of Danteâ€™s Inferno (Graywolf), illustrated with drawings by Henrik Drescher. Bangâ€™s thrillingly contemporary translation of the first part (the juiciest part) of Alighieriâ€™s 14th-century poem The Divine Comedy is indeed epic. While staying true to Alighieriâ€™s interpretations of religious faith, the bounds of morality, and the soulâ€™s journey toward God, Bangâ€™s sin-soaked voyage through the circles of Hell teems with references to such latter-day personages as John Wayne Gacy, South Parkâ€™s Eric Cartman, Stephen Colbert, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and the Rolling Stones.
Bomb magazine has a not-very-exciting excerpt, consisting of Satan himself at the very bottom of Hell’s abyss. Only the usual Judas, Cassius, and Brutus appear, alas! I had been hoping to find the Archfiend this time munching on Andrew Sullivan, while making a mess of David Frum, Charles Johnson, and John Cole, but I suppose Mary Jo Bang doesn’t personally care about defectors from the political right, and all those guys are alive anyway.
If you want a serious translation of the Inferno, I would recommend the version by John Ciardi.
Via Andrew Sullivan.