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Belonging in the immortal company of the works of Homer, Virgil, Milton, and Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece is a visionary journey that takes readers through the torment of Hell. The first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy is many things: a moving human drama, a supreme expression of the Middle Ages, a glorification of the ways of God, and a magnificent protest against the ways in which men have thwarted the divine plan. One of the few literary works that has enjoyed a fame both immediate and enduring, The Inferno remains powerful after seven centuries. It confronts the most universal values—good and evil, free will and predestination—while remaining intensely personal and ferociously political, for it was born out of the anguish of a man who saw human life blighted by the injustice and corruption of his times. Translated by John Ciardi With an Introduction by Archibald T. MacAllister and an Afterword by Edward M. Cifelli
The true diversity of the American experience comes to life in this superlative collection of autobiographies—including those of Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglas, Mark Twain, and more... A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682), perhaps the first American bestseller, recounts this thirty-nine-year-old woman’s harrowing months as the captive of Narragansett Indians. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1771–1789), the most famous of all American autobiographies, gives a lively portrait of a chandler’s son who became a scientist, inventor, educator, diplomat, humorist—and a Founding Father of this land. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), the gripping slave narrative that helped change the course of American history, reveals the true nature of the black experience in slavery. Old Times on the Mississippi (1875), Mark Twain’s unforgettable account of a riverboat pilot’s life, established his signature style and shows us the metamorphosis of a man into a writer. Four Autobiographical Narratives (1900–1902), published in the Atlantic Monthly by Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird), also known as Gertrude Bonnin, provide us with a voice too seldom heard: a Native American woman fighting for her culture in the white man’s world. Edited and with an Introduction by William L. Andrews and an Afterword by Paul John Eakin

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