In 1867, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow completed the first American translation of Inferno
and thus introduced Dante’s literary genius to the New World. In the Inferno
, the spirit of the classical poet Virgil leads Dante through the nine circles of Hell on the initial stage of his journey toward Heaven. Along the way Dante encounters and describes in vivid detail the various types of sinners in the throes of their eternal torment.
“Opening the book we stand face to face with the poet, and when his voice ceases we may marvel if he has not sung to us in his own Tuscan.” —William Dean Howells, The Nation