Hot Best Seller

The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso

Availability: Ready to download

The Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption. Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonge The Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption. Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. His life was divided by political duties and poetry, the most of famous of which was inspired by his meeting with Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice,including La Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy. He died in Ravenna in 1321.

Read Online Now Download Now
Compare

The Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption. Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonge The Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption. Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. His life was divided by political duties and poetry, the most of famous of which was inspired by his meeting with Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice,including La Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy. He died in Ravenna in 1321.

17 review for The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    "You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth." - Niels Bohr I was thinking about Dante the other day and wondering how one could approach him from the angle of a GoodReads review. One of the obvious problems is that he lived a long time ago, and many of the cultural referents have changed. You're constantly having to think "Well, nowadays what he's saying would correspond to THAT". It isn't so bad in Hell, when there is plent "You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth." - Niels Bohr I was thinking about Dante the other day and wondering how one could approach him from the angle of a GoodReads review. One of the obvious problems is that he lived a long time ago, and many of the cultural referents have changed. You're constantly having to think "Well, nowadays what he's saying would correspond to THAT". It isn't so bad in Hell, when there is plenty of entertainment to be had in seeing how the different sins are punished, and indulging your schadenfreude. Then Purgatory tells a moral story that's more or less timeless if you go for that sort of thing, but once you arrive in Paradise it starts getting seriously tricky. A lot of the stuff at first sight just seems irrelevant to the 21st century world... all these explanations about the mechanics of Ptolomaic astronomy, and Dante querying the inhabitants of Heaven on obscure theological points. It's notorious that readers most often give up somewhere in the third book. I started wondering if there was any modern-day author one could identify with Dante, and if that might help us connect to his concerns. And in fact, I do have a suggestion that some people will no doubt condemn out of hand as completely heretical: Richard Dawkins. Now of course, I am aware that Dante was deeply immersed in the Christian world-view, and Dawkins is famous for being the world's most outspoken atheist. But it's not quite as crazy as it first may seem. Dante was a Christian to the core of his being, but he was furious with the way the Church was being run; he put several of its leaders, notably Pope Boniface VIII, in Hell. On the other side, I challenge anyone to read "The Ancestor's Tale" to the end, and not, at least for a moment, entertain the idea that Dawkins is in actual fact a deeply religious man. He admits as much himself: as he puts it, it's often not so much that he disagrees with conventionally religious people, more that "they are saying it wrong". Amen to that. As noted, both Dante and Dawkins are extremely unhappy with the way mainstream religion is being organized. The other characteristic that unites them for me is this passionate love for science. One has to remember that, for Dante, Ptolomaic astronomy was state of the art stuff, and the details of the angelic hierarchy were a topic of vital importance; of course he cross-examines the hosts of the blessed to find out more. These days, I imagine he would be trying to get inside information on what happened during the Big Bang before spontaneous symmetry breaking occurred, whether or not the Higgs particle really exists, and how evolution produced human intelligence. For Dante, there didn't seem to be any opposition between religious faith and science - they were part of the same thing. I do wonder what he would have thought if he had been able to learn that many leading religious figures, even in the early 21st century, reject a large part of science as being somehow unreligious. It's wrong to spend your life dispassionately trying to understand God's Universe? I can see him getting quite angry about this, and deciding to rearrange the seating a little down in Hell. I keep thinking that there's a book someone ought to write called "Five Atheists You'll Meet in Heaven". Please let me know when it comes out; I'll buy a copy at once. ************************************** PS I couldn't help wondering what Paradise might have looked like if Dante had been writing today. Obviously we wouldn't have the old geocentric model of the Universe - it would be bang up to date. I think there is now far more material for an ambitious poet to work with than there was in the 14th century. For example, when we get to the Heaven of the Galaxy, I imagine him using this wonderful fact that all the heavy elements are made in supernova explosions. "We are all stardust", as some people like to put it. Then when we get to the Heaven of the Cosmos, we find that the light from the "Let there be light" moment at the beginning of Creation is still around - it's just cooled to 2.7 degrees K, and appears as the cosmic background radiation. But it's not completely uniform, as the quantum fluctuations left over from the period when the Universe was the size of an atomic nucleus are the beginnings of the galaxies created on the second day. Finally, we reach the Heaven of the Multiverse, and find that we are just one of many different universes. It was necessary to create all of them, so that random processes could make sure that a very small number would end up being able to support life. How impious to assume that God would only be able to create one Universe, and have to tweak all the constants Himself!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I once thought I'd write an essay on how long it takes a serious author (of fiction or nonfiction) before he or she inevitably quotes Dante. If I were to write a novel myself (this is a hypothetical grammatical construction!), I'd probably manage about a page before I'd exclaim that I am lost, and middle-aged, and in the middle of a dark forest. I'd try to kill off annoying acquaintances and punish them severely for their lack of admiration for me and my creativity (not to mention my sarcasm and I once thought I'd write an essay on how long it takes a serious author (of fiction or nonfiction) before he or she inevitably quotes Dante. If I were to write a novel myself (this is a hypothetical grammatical construction!), I'd probably manage about a page before I'd exclaim that I am lost, and middle-aged, and in the middle of a dark forest. I'd try to kill off annoying acquaintances and punish them severely for their lack of admiration for me and my creativity (not to mention my sarcasm and irony!!), and of course I would meet my teenage love and be joined together forever in eternal happiness in the end (or maybe not, come to think of it, I might skip that part!), after spending a life travelling the underworld in the company of the most brilliant author I can think of. Dante fulfilled all his (and my!) dreams with the Divina Commedia, and I envy him his bravery and talent, not to mention his ability to write in that beautiful Italian. However, not all parts of the poem were equally appealing to me. I found myself loving Inferno, liking Purgatorio, and not quite identifying with Paradiso at all. I always wondered why that is, and concluded that humans are much better at depicting hell than heaven, chaos than order, dystopia than utopia. Reason being, in my (not very important) opinion: there's no storyline behind real bliss, and without stories, we are not entirely connected to humanity and its questions anymore. Paradiso is nice, but uninteresting, sort of. "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate" - the ticket to hell: I doubt if there ever was a better advertisement for a rollercoaster adventure! Update in Year One Of Post-Truth Wall Building: I am still lost in that dark forest of middle age, trying to make sense of life, and Dante comes to mind more and more often, in the same way Orwell's 1984 does: it grows more realistic with every day that passes. This morning, "The Wall Of Dis" all of a sudden forced itself upon my thoughts, - the great wall separating Dante's Upper and Lower Hell. Upper Hell is for the Carnal, Gluttonous, Greedy, and Wrathful, whereas the other side of the wall contains the Heretical, Violent, Fraudulent and Treacherous. It just struck me that every wall in the world has created that kind of "mental division". The typical representatives of "upper hell", consumed by the everyday sins of wanting most of everything for themselves without being bothered by others, usually keep their "moral upper hand" by accusing the "other side of the wall" of worse crimes, such as the "wrong religion", violence, and treason. The funny (or sad) thing is that it works both ways. You can turn hell upside down and have the same results: egotistical, narcissistic angry men accuse others of treason and heresy to deflect from their own faults. No wonder Inferno is a timeless classic: after all, Dante based it on his own experience of a divisive, violent political situation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    I attempt to rewrite the Divine Comedy In the middle of the journey of my life I came across a man named Trump Who seemed bent on causing much strife O! how he was an unpleasant, fleshy lump! Like some hobgoblin of the child's imagination Or a thing that in the night goes bump. But in spite of lengthy cogitation I find I have produced fewer words Than members of the crowd at an inauguration I've doubtless disappointed the Dante nerds And before long may well concede defeat My plan, I admit, was strictly fo I attempt to rewrite the Divine Comedy In the middle of the journey of my life I came across a man named Trump Who seemed bent on causing much strife O! how he was an unpleasant, fleshy lump! Like some hobgoblin of the child's imagination Or a thing that in the night goes bump. But in spite of lengthy cogitation I find I have produced fewer words Than members of the crowd at an inauguration I've doubtless disappointed the Dante nerds And before long may well concede defeat My plan, I admit, was strictly for the birds Alas! Success will not these efforts greet I am totally running out of steam And will soon be mocked by some misspelled tweet I had despaired. Then last night, in a dream I heard a voice say, "Manny, just have some fun. Go on, I tell you, it'll be a scream." "Master," I said, "I think I'm not the one." "Fear not," he answered. "All things will be well. Recount the tale of Trump and Kim Jong-Un." "But first," I asked, "What is the place in Hell Reserved, I hear, for Justin Trudeau's soul And what his punishment? I beg, please tell." [To be continued when I find new inspiration. I am currently interviewing muses]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    THE DARING, somewhat COMIC, and also DIVINE, INVENTIO It is very difficult not to be lured by the highly intelligent craft of Durante degli Aliguieri (DA). And may be it is not a coincidence that he was the exact contemporary of Giotto, his fellow Florentine. For if Giotto planted the seed for a pictorial representation of the world in which man, at the center, and through a window, delivers to us a naturalistic depiction of divine stories, Dante also used his writing to posit himself as the Auth THE DARING, somewhat COMIC, and also DIVINE, INVENTIO It is very difficult not to be lured by the highly intelligent craft of Durante degli Aliguieri (DA). And may be it is not a coincidence that he was the exact contemporary of Giotto, his fellow Florentine. For if Giotto planted the seed for a pictorial representation of the world in which man, at the center, and through a window, delivers to us a naturalistic depiction of divine stories, Dante also used his writing to posit himself as the Author who through his fictional persona or Alter-Ego, gives us the viewpoint to contemplate the full cosmos. His cosmos, but for us to share. Still, we modern readers, in spite of Modernist and PostModernist awareness, are still fooled by DA’s handling of illusion, and easily become pilgrims and start on a literary trip more than ready to absorb everything that DA wants us to see, and think, and believe. POLITICS So, for example, we will learn his political views. DA was exiled in 1301 and led a peripatetic life, outside Florence, until his death in 1321. He wrote the Commedia during the exile, from 1309 and finished it in time. By masterfully welding the fact and mythologized fiction of the world of Antiquity, he cloths himself with the full robes of Auctoritas, and presents us the complex development of European politics during the thirteenth century. He summons his views repeatedly either by the succession of visits to the traitors or in fully developed historical pageants. Of course, Hell is populated by DA’s enemies, with the very pope responsible for his exile, Boniface VIII, holding stardom in Circle 8th. In this Inferno DA is the very Minos. He is the one who with his pen of many tails wraps around his enemies and throws them down the pit to the Circle that DA believes the chosen sinners deserve. Even if this spectacle horrifies his ingenuous Pilgrim. The ranking of the Inferno Circles reflect also DA’s values. Lust is the least damaging while Treason, in particular political treason and the betrayal of friends, is the most despicable. In comparison even Lucifer, a rendition that remains faithful to the medieval tradition, is not much more than a grotesque, and not particularly hateful, monster. Politics continue in Purgatory. DA’s audacity is again proved by the way he exploits to its fullest what was still a relatively new concept in Christian dogma (1274). If DA had been Minos in Inferno, he now is the discerning Cato of Purgatory. He is the one holding the Silver and Gold keys, and who claims to know the very intimate thought of those who had the luck to repent the instance just before dying. He awards then the transit ticket to Paradise. Can we be surprised if some of the awardees had some relation to those figures who had welcomed DA during his exile? DA’s authorial knowledge is supplemented by the granting his protagonist with the role of Messenger of Hope. The Pilgrim, as the only human in Purgatory, can bid for more prayers to the still living relatives when he goes back to Earth. He can effect a change in the duration that any purging sinner is to spend in the transitional stage, the only one of the three realms in which the clock is ticking. Could one expect DA to finally drop the political discourse in Heaven? No, of course not. There it even acquires greater strength since the discourse is cloaked with a divine mantle. In Paradiso it will be no other than Saint Peter himself who will denounce the path of degeneration that the Papacy had taken in recent years. And if Boniface VIII (died in 1303) had been repeatedly identified as the culprit for the evil in earth, now it is his succeeding popes, --and contemporary to the writing of Commedia--, who are selected by DA’s saintly mouthpiece. Pope Clement V was responsible for the transfer of the papacy to Avignon, and the cupidity of John XXII was for everyone to see. Indeed, a secluded Apocalyptical 666 attests that politics forms a triptych in Commedia. In agreement with the intricate framework of parallels, symmetries and balances in this work, DA devoted the three chapters 6 in each book to political diatribes. Apart from his relying on Ancient Auctoritas, DA also accorded the full weight of history to his views, and it is mostly in a couple of major pageants and in the Valley of the Kings that he exposes the political disaster that the withdrawal from the Italian peninsula by the Empire had on the various city states. It was left to the corrupt papacy and to the corrupt smaller kingdoms to spread crime along the full Europe. His solution was clear. The papacy had to govern only religious matters, and he extolled the Emperor Henry VII to hold the political reins of Europe. It is DA’s canonized Beatrice who has a reserved seat for this Emperor in God’s White Flower if he does succeed in exerting his salvific political role. DOGMA But the Commedia is not just about politics. This extremely complex work is also soaking in Christian Dogma. Of course politics and dogma were inextricably joined during the Middle Ages, and that was part of DA’s very complaint. And what is to me extraordinary about the immediate reception of Commedia, is that it was treated like Scripture. Even the early editions were illustrated like illuminated manuscripts—which in a way is most befitting if we remember that it is about the progress of a Pilgrim’s as he approaches Light and gains a 20/20 vision elevated tho the Trinitarian power. In his appeal to religious dogma DA was extraordinarily successful, even if some of his claims were shockingly daring. He modified or added realms to the Christian Cosmos, with the peculiar understanding of the Limbo to accommodate revered figures from Ancient Antiquity, or added the Pre-Purgatory for the unabsolved Rulers. He designed his own ranking of the Sins, both for Hell and Purgatory. But most importantly he proposed his understanding of Free Will and its conflicting relationship to Predetermination and God’s vision. Not by chance did he place the discussion of Free Will at the very center of the work, in Canto 16 of Purgatory. But the most dangerous proposition, for him, was his vehement defense of the limitations of the Papacy on Earth. He started writing in 1307 just a few years after the Papal Bull of Unam Sanctam the very controversial claim of papal infallibility. Not this book, but Dante’s Monarchia, in which he strongly attacked official tenet, was burned soon after Dante’s death and was included in the list of forbidden books during the 16th century. NARRATIVE SCHEMES To us, however, it is not his proclamations on Dogma, and not even his political views (except for historians), which offer the greatest interest. What is most remarkable for literature addicts is how DA, the author, develops all these themes, and succeeds in weighing with the gravest authority his poetic treatise. And this he does through his masterful manipulation of the power of fiction and the sophisticated uses of voices. For a start, there is the protagonist: DA’s Alter Ego, and the only human in the full work. His humanity, and his being in the middle of the moral mess in which he has placed himself is the perfect mirror for the reader. But we can trust him to embody us because Virgil, the greatest Roman poet and chronologist of the foundation of Rome, will guide us. We can trust him also because Christian Divinity has selected him as the, temporary, guide. It is only when Virgil’s powers have reached his limits, two thirds into the full work, that the pilgrim’s identity is revealed to us. He is Dante himself, or Dante the Pilgrim (DP). With his revealed identity he can say goodbye to the pagan guide who cannot, alas, have a place in Heaven. Dante, however, will. The spoiler provided by our general culture has damaged the way we read the work. The astounding pretention of DA in assigning himself the powers in deciding who goes where in his system of divine retributions has been blurred to some naive readers. Some of them try to excuse Dante precisely because they have been entirely convinced by his acting puppet. The highly successful Dante the Pilgrim (DP) as a candid personality with the qualities of kindness, fear, anger and similar emotions, distracts our attention away from the real Dante, the Author. The Pilgrim is an alibi mechanism for his creator. He shows pity for the people DA condemns. He can go beyond the Terrace of Pride, in which the rather proud DA may be still spending some of his time. And he becomes the anointed messenger from the Heavens to deliver to us what DA is writing. But we would also be mistaken if we did not recognized that not always him, but many other characters voice DA’s opinion. His brilliant dramatization with innumerable personages constitutes the choir of a ventriloquist. In the sophisticated Narrative technique, the handling of time is also magisterial. Apart from the symbolic unfolding of the action during Holy Week of the year 1300, and the references to eternal cosmic time, it is the numerous voices of this clever ventriloquist who continually foretell what is to happen to the sinners. Most outstandingly the voices predict the eternal condemnation of DA’s particular enemies. Some of these were not yet dead at the time of the pilgrimage, but had already passed away when DA was writing his poem. Such an example is the premonition that the most hated pope Boniface VIII will be damned. He died three years later. But there is also the shocking case of the soul that is already in penance while his body is still living on earth. This personality died even after Dante. Finally it is DP himself, once he has entered Heaven, who engages in this foretelling, and of course, it had to be in his warning to the Popes that were about to be in power in the years after the voyage of the Commedia, reminding them to stay out of politics and to forget material wealth. The suitability of DP as our Alter-egos to reach salvation is certified by his examinations on the Theological Virtues by the the Apostles Peter, James and John. He passes them with flying colors, because DP acknowledges that his knowledge is based on the Holy Text. And it is also with Text, and DA was very well versed in exploiting its four levels of interpretation (Literal, allegorical, moral and anagogical), that is, with this new poetry that Dante Aliguieri is proposing a plan for his, and our, salvation. Because after such a heavenly Graduation who can deny the Commedia its status as Prophetic and Scriptural? May be we saw it coming, when the still anonymous Pilgrim posited himself, at the very beginning of the poem, as the 6th greatest poet after the likes of Homer, Ovid, Virgil etc. So, may be it is not by chance that his identity as Dante is revealed until Virgil is used and expensed. Several other poets also populate the triptychal poem: representatives of the two pioneering schools of Provençal and Sicilian schools, as well as by those Florentines who with or just before DA, started formulating the sweet new style (dolce still novo) and exploring the literary possibilities of the still vernacular Tuscan tongue. But if DA has been exploiting his abilities as ventriloquist, it is with his own voice as a poet that he makes a presence in Commedia. A few of his fictional characters quote some of Dante’s earlier verses. Having reached the Empirium of the poem, we can stop and think about where Dante Alighieri has taken us. Because, even if not eternal salvation, he has delivered us a most extraordinary feat of literature that we cannot but qualify as divine. Furthermore, he has done so in a newly coined language, to which he added some words of his own invention, and, most outstanding of all, he positioned the Author at the very center of that literary White Rose of fiction. And this flower continued to exude its rich scent until, in a similar process to the displacement of Giotto’s viewer, Roland Barthes, plucked it in the declaration formulated in his 1967 Essay The Death of the Author. But before that, it had a long life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Commedia = Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia) is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work in Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped estab Commedia = Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia) is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work in Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه جولای سال 1976 میلادی عنوان: کمدی الهی در سه جلد: دوزخ - برزخ - بهشت؛ سروده: دانته آلیگری؛ مترجم: شجاع الدین شفا؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1335؛ البته که ترجمه های دیگران از نامداران و مترجمان این اثر کم بدیل جداگانه معرفی شده اند سرود اول بهشت جلال ِ آن کس که گرداننده ی همه چیز است، سرتاسر جهان آفرینش را به فرمان خویش دارد. ولی در اینجا (آسمان) بیشتر، و در جاهای دیگر کمتر متجلی است. بدان آسمانی رفتم، که بیش از هر آسمان دگر از فروغ او بهره مند است، و چیزهایی را دیدم که آنکس که از آن بالا فرود آمده باشد، نه میداند و نه میتواند بازگفت. زیرا که حس ادراک ما، با نزدیکی به مایه ی اشتیاق خود، چنان مجذوب میشود، که حافظه ی ما را، یارای همراهی با آن نمیماند. با این همه، آنچه را که از قلمرو مقدس (بهشت) در گنجینه ی اندیشه، جای توانسته ام داد، اکنون مایه ی این سرود خویش میکنم، و بازش میگویم. ای «آپولوی» نیک نهاد، برای این سهم آخرین، مرا آن اندازه، از نبوغ خویش عطا کن، که برای سپردن تاج افتخار محبوب خود به کسان، از آنان طلب میکنی... ا. شربیانی ...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    Reading the Divine Comedy at seventeen was, for me, to see the world sub specie aeternitatis. Apparently that’s not okay. Writing it, in the 14th Century, was not considered okay either. So Dante was banished for life from Florence. In the Comedy eternal flame is the just deserts of corrupt conformity. That doesn’t seem quite right in the eyes of the comfortably politically correct, back then as now. And what they say goes. So reading this literary landmark for the first time, when I was seventeen, Reading the Divine Comedy at seventeen was, for me, to see the world sub specie aeternitatis. Apparently that’s not okay. Writing it, in the 14th Century, was not considered okay either. So Dante was banished for life from Florence. In the Comedy eternal flame is the just deserts of corrupt conformity. That doesn’t seem quite right in the eyes of the comfortably politically correct, back then as now. And what they say goes. So reading this literary landmark for the first time, when I was seventeen, marked the inauguration of a colossal climacteric in my life. The winds of change, back then, were howling all around me and - as if in reaction - Dante’s vertical landscapes, ascending and descending, morphed within my mind to become the central mythos of my world and my young spirit. For Dante’s work states clearly - from his symbolic POV - that we CAN find lasting happiness: in spite of the majority’s secure illusions to the contrary. What we have to do to find it is pacify our dark impulses, work out our emotional trauma with diligence and awareness, and then aspire to reach the gates of Real and Lasting Happiness in the crown of our emotions and intellect - Faith. Hell. Purgation. And Paradise. In the era of my first reading of it, my grandmother had a beautifully bound edition of the Longfellow translation - with its wonderful nouveau Gothic plates by Gustave Doré - which I carried all around my parents’ house, absorbed in its mystical milieu. By the next summer I had graduated to a library loan of the much less bulky-sized John Ciardi translation, in a limited edition with abstract modernistic illustrations. You know, one or another edition has been with me all throughout the intervening 50+ years between then and now, my literal ‘sine qua non’ Vade Mecum in all of its multiple shapes and sizes! At university, it was the must-own tiny Everyman Library dual-language edition, with its graceful Pre-Raphaelite line drawings - very easy to stick into my shirt pocket going to and from lectures... And, do you know, I recently realized that in all my many, many readings of the poetic translations available, I’ve never been able to fully grasp the subtle complexities of Dante’s Aristotelian/Thomist philosophical arguments? So I picked up Charles Eliot Norton’s eminently accessible PROSE translation for my Kindle. So, as well as the print edition pictured above - another excellent translation - THAT is the story of my life... in One Book! And now that the end of of my life is approaching Sooner - rather than Later (or that’s the impression I now get), I can look back at my life, and the world I’ve lived in, and agree with The Comedy’s author that, as is inscribed in bold letters on the glorious facade of the old San Francisco Public Library: La gloria di colui che tutto move Per l’universo penetra, e risplende In una parte piu e meno altrove. The glory of The Prime Mover penetrates throughout the entire universe - in one part less, and another more!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    The Divine Comedy is so divine (I pass the redundancy) that we can bring some of Dante's narration to our day, without necessarily dividing our moments in stages, and we do not even have to die to see the stages we have passed. Nowadays humanity, so sordid and unmasked, acts, treating one another personally, as if it had a particular Heaven of false power, knowing that it actually lives a real Hell. Worse still is not to reach out to the next, pushing them to innumerable Purgatorys at once, offe The Divine Comedy is so divine (I pass the redundancy) that we can bring some of Dante's narration to our day, without necessarily dividing our moments in stages, and we do not even have to die to see the stages we have passed. Nowadays humanity, so sordid and unmasked, acts, treating one another personally, as if it had a particular Heaven of false power, knowing that it actually lives a real Hell. Worse still is not to reach out to the next, pushing them to innumerable Purgatorys at once, offering no other choice. The owners of power gaining millions and millions, pretend to have mercy on suffering humanity, continuing with their shenanigans and lies, wanting the humiliated citizen to believe he is in Heaven, because they are still alive. These greedy people whom we know very well, live a true and particular Hell, in the dispute of who can do more. The poor, suffering workers are already in Purgatory. Until, from time to time they feed a false hope that one day they will live in the Heaven of the mighty, causing a paraphernalia among the many greedy miserable ones, who is taking life, pushing and trampling those who try to pass before them, because many are in a hurry, and believe they can get out of Purgatory and reach the Infernal Heaven of illusion and social inequality.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Plumbing the crucible of happenstance. I should give a quick intro and say that I rarely EVER, EVER re-read a book. I should also mention that 3 years ago I had never cracked Dante's Divine Comedy. Now, I am finishing the Divine Comedy for the 3rd time. I've read Pinsky's translation of the Inferno. I've read Ciardi. I've flirted with Mandelbaum and danced with Hollander, but from Canto 1 of Inferno/Hell to Canto XXXIII of Paradiso/Heaven, I can't say I've read a better version than the Clive Jam Plumbing the crucible of happenstance. I should give a quick intro and say that I rarely EVER, EVER re-read a book. I should also mention that 3 years ago I had never cracked Dante's Divine Comedy. Now, I am finishing the Divine Comedy for the 3rd time. I've read Pinsky's translation of the Inferno. I've read Ciardi. I've flirted with Mandelbaum and danced with Hollander, but from Canto 1 of Inferno/Hell to Canto XXXIII of Paradiso/Heaven, I can't say I've read a better version than the Clive James translation. He replaced the terza rima (**A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D-E-E** a measure hard to write without poetic stretch marks in English) with the quatrain, and in doing so made the English translation his own. It gives the Divine Comedy the verbal energy and the poetry that makes inferior translations a slog and makes Dante so damn difficult to translate well. A mediocre translation might capture the stripes but lose the tiger. Clive James pulled off a master translation of one of the greatest works of art in any medium -- ever.

  9. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    I propose an extra level in the Inferno for procrastinators and abandoners. I was planning to write a novel where three protagonists commit suicide and end up in Scottish Hell. Since overcrowding has plagued the old Scottish Hell HQ, the protagonists are forced to queue up for weeks on end before arriving at the building for processing. Upon their arrival, their sins are assessed by an administrator to determine which circle of Hell is appropriate for them. But due to cutbacks and financial inst I propose an extra level in the Inferno for procrastinators and abandoners. I was planning to write a novel where three protagonists commit suicide and end up in Scottish Hell. Since overcrowding has plagued the old Scottish Hell HQ, the protagonists are forced to queue up for weeks on end before arriving at the building for processing. Upon their arrival, their sins are assessed by an administrator to determine which circle of Hell is appropriate for them. But due to cutbacks and financial instabilities, the three suicides are deemed unfit for service in Hell and are returned to their bodies. Back on Earth, the three characters return to their miserable lives, which they want to leave immediately. But before they commit suicide again, they have to break free from their mousy personalities and commit sins grievous enough to secure them a decent place in Hell. As the characters commit petty thefts and minor infelicities, the sin requirements to Hell become tougher and tougher, and they are repeatedly returned to their bodies. They spend their lives building up to larger and larger sins, constantly being returned to their bodies as the world around them becomes increasingly more depraved and violent. When they die, because the notion of “sin” has been completely reclassified to mean the most vile, sickest violations, they are secured a place Heaven for their relatively minor embezzlements, murders and rapes. I started this book but lost impetus halfway through. I was convinced this idea was derivative of other works (the Hell-as-bureaucracy has certainly popped up in British satire) and lost heart. I also lost heart halfway through the Inferno section of this, despite the translation being very fluent and readable. So I am going to the tenth circle, for the procrastinating bolter. (I did read the graphic novel version: partial redemption?)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I finished it! Someone, bring me my medal... the Inferno is Hieronymus Bosch with words A few caveats to this review: I am not a theologian, philosopher, medieval historian, Dante expert, nor astrologist. I am, however, a reader who wants to read "all of teh books" and I appreciate vivid imagery and interesting human interactions in fiction. I tackled the recent Clive James version of Dante's Divine Comedy--no footnotes or canto introductions here--because I just wanted to let the story wash over I finished it! Someone, bring me my medal... the Inferno is Hieronymus Bosch with words A few caveats to this review: I am not a theologian, philosopher, medieval historian, Dante expert, nor astrologist. I am, however, a reader who wants to read "all of teh books" and I appreciate vivid imagery and interesting human interactions in fiction. I tackled the recent Clive James version of Dante's Divine Comedy--no footnotes or canto introductions here--because I just wanted to let the story wash over me, to see how much I could "get" on my own without knowing why Dante's father's baker's frenemy's ex-lover's dog-handler was sitting upside-down in the burning pitch in Hell. And when it comes to vivid imagery, the Inferno delivers. Surprisingly (to me), the Purgatorio was also fairly easy to follow, as Dante and Virgil continue up a ceaseless barren slope past the singing, self-flagellating sinners who do their time for various sins and, each time an angel wipes an ash-mark from their foreheads, become one level closer to heaven. From reading the inferno in high school I had recalled Dante as a sniveling, swooning sissy--but on this re-read found myself very much liking his sensitivity and sense of empathy, especially to many of the sinners in hell (well, as long as they are classical figures. If he knows them, he's more likely to go stomp on their heads). Guide Virgil has to chastise him numerous times to keep him from getting (understandably) emotionally mired in the horrors he witnesses. My favorite parts, besides perhaps the insult-throwing trident-wielding demons, were the back-and-forths between Dante and Virgil. Sadly, though, Virgil is barred from entering heaven, and in the third book Paradiso we are stuck with the so-nauseatingly-lovely-and-perfect-that-you-just-want-to-smack-her Beatrice. Regardless of this new guide, I found Dante's heaven as impenetrable as listening to someone describe an acid-trip. It struck me as a sort of renaissance-era Yellow Submarine (complete with its own Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) though the incessant choral music wasn't quite as catchy. Lucy in the sky with Dante Seriously, I'm amazed at how similar this clip from Yellow Submarine is to the Paradiso! Watch it! *EDIT* Sorry, it looks like the Submarine link keeps breaking, so my apologies if it doesn't work. If I notice a problem, I will fix it! Should be working now, anyway.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Capp

    I first read this poem four years ago as part of a dare. And by “dare,” I mean a professor listed it on the syllabus and I had to read it and then write papers about it. The next summer, I wanted to read it again on account of the graphic imagery of Inferno and Purgatorio. The punishments/reparations are mindblowing, scary, and beautiful. Everyone should at the very least skim Inferno. Particularly in Inferno, the political references are funny and provocative, and the historical significance of I first read this poem four years ago as part of a dare. And by “dare,” I mean a professor listed it on the syllabus and I had to read it and then write papers about it. The next summer, I wanted to read it again on account of the graphic imagery of Inferno and Purgatorio. The punishments/reparations are mindblowing, scary, and beautiful. Everyone should at the very least skim Inferno. Particularly in Inferno, the political references are funny and provocative, and the historical significance of this epic poem is right up there with the Bible and Paradise Lost for me. Paradiso is far more abstract and sappy than the other books. I re-read all three last Fall because I’ve always felt attached to this work, and I figure you gotta read something at LEAST three times before you say its your favorite book. But yeah, this is my favorite book. It makes me want to learn Italian and read Dante’s Italian (and the whole part about him writing it in Italian instead of Latin pissed off so many people—again, the history of this piece is great). It makes me want to visit Italy. It makes me want to write something worth reading!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven Walle

    This is one of the best epic poems ever! I highly recommend everyone reads this, Homer's works, and Virgil's works. This was a great translation and a wonder forward and glossery. 5 huge stars! Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    “Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric moved: To rear me was the task of power divine, Supremest wisdom, and primeval love. Before me things create were none, save things Eternal, and eternal I shall endure. All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” There is no much one can say about this marvelous poem that has not been said before. One of the greatest epic poems to have been written, ever “Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric moved: To rear me was the task of power divine, Supremest wisdom, and primeval love. Before me things create were none, save things Eternal, and eternal I shall endure. All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” There is no much one can say about this marvelous poem that has not been said before. One of the greatest epic poems to have been written, ever. The book is divided into three books, Inferno, meaning hell; Purgatorio, meaning purgatory; and Paradiso, meaning heaven. My favourite has always been Inferno, but Paradiso is highly underrated, as underrated as this brilliant work can possibly be. “The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream, and the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream.” This is a basic view of the world as Dante knew it back in the 14th century, a human’s soul journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. This poem mixes religion and science, everything from the most basic Christian Dogma to early Islamic astronomy, with a lot of his political views mixed in. At the time this work was being written, Dante was living in exile, he uses this work as a way to show his enemies and what he thought not only of figures of his time, but of historical figures in general, including Plato, Aesop, Alejandro Magno, Mary as well as legendary people, such as Abel, Diana, and Isaac. If one does not wish to read this simply because it is a long poem, read it for the historical view, so many interesting characters for history buffs. My favourite thing perhaps, was how he used his work to slam the people that harmed him, including Pope Boniface VIII, the man who exiled him. Basically, apart from this being a religious work, and a historical work, it is a big “F-you” to everyone he disagreed with him, or harmed him in any way, those parts were hilarious to me. I have a horrible sense of humour. Basically, read this poem, there is: Satan, angels, the circles of hell, philosophers in Tartarus, a reference to the Muslim conquest as “Dragon,” “the bird of Jove” attacking a church, a bunch of symbolism for “Reason,” unnecessary invocation of the Muses, Tristan and Isolde, many interesting murderers and a bunch of other cool stuff.

  14. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    I am back reading another version of The Divine Comedy. This translation by Australian poet Clive James is the most lyrical that I have read. It is as if I was reading it for the first time and with all that joy of discovery. This review is based on the first book of this trilogy. "Had I the bitter, grating rhymes to fit This grim hole on which all the other rocks Bear down, I’d do a better job of it When pressing out my thought’s sap. But what blocks The flow is just that: my soft, childish tongu I am back reading another version of The Divine Comedy. This translation by Australian poet Clive James is the most lyrical that I have read. It is as if I was reading it for the first time and with all that joy of discovery. This review is based on the first book of this trilogy. "Had I the bitter, grating rhymes to fit This grim hole on which all the other rocks Bear down, I’d do a better job of it When pressing out my thought’s sap. But what blocks The flow is just that: my soft, childish tongue. It is with fear that I begin to speak, Because a language we employ when young To call our mother “mummy” is too weak To use, even in sport, when touching on The lowest level of the universe..." "And though my frozen face Felt nothing, like a callus, still somehow I felt the wind, and more than just a trace. “Master,” I said, “What causes this? I thought All heat down here was quenched.” And he to me: “Your eyes will soon be able to report Directly, for the cause you’ll plainly see That drives the blast.” And from his frozen crust One of the wretches cried: “O souls so cruel You roam free in the last pit of despair, Lift off my brittle veils and break the rule, That I might just a little give release To the sadness that swells my heart, before My tears freeze up again. So they will cease…"

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brent Weeks

    Dante? Awesome! I’ve always wanted Brent to review a game from the Devil May Cry series! Which one did you play? Er… well, let me explain. I wanted a space with my new website design to talk about video games—I love them. But I also want to, from time to time, engage with other media. “What I’m Playing?” fits in a shorter space than “What form of media is Brent playing or reading or watching, and what particular title currently, and what is his take on that?” So, uh, really this sidebar is “Brent’ Dante? Awesome! I’ve always wanted Brent to review a game from the Devil May Cry series! Which one did you play? Er… well, let me explain. I wanted a space with my new website design to talk about video games—I love them. But I also want to, from time to time, engage with other media. “What I’m Playing?” fits in a shorter space than “What form of media is Brent playing or reading or watching, and what particular title currently, and what is his take on that?” So, uh, really this sidebar is “Brent’s Brain at Play” … so, yeah, it’s false advertising. Sorry. I’ve just re-read The Divine Comedy for the first time since four miserable weeks in 1995. Miserable not because I hated Dante. I read the Dorothy Sayers translation in terza rima, and I loved much of it. The misery came from the class: Freshman Honors English, semester 1. This was my introduction to college. One semester, one class: 4,200 pages of reading. I still believe this was the class that convinced the smartest student in the college—I’m talking ‘pun in Latin and expect others to laugh along with you’ smart—to drop out and become a priest. Little known fact: that kid punched me in the face once. (A little known fact that will doubtless come up when he’s up for canonization—he was a pretty darn good guy. Is still, I assume!) It was not the only fight I got into in college, oddly enough, though it was the only one where I didn’t hit back… So I guess you could say I… lost? But c’mon, you try to hit back after a future pope punches you. If the word ‘discombobulating’ had been invented for any legitimate purpose, it would have been for that moment. (But that’s a pure hypothetical. Don’t combobulate if you hope to copulate, nerds.) But I digress. Every student in Honors English 101 had a B or lower. (B- here.) Our professor was a poet. He really liked the word “wen”. No further explanation needed, right? The end of the semester was fast approaching. Panic set in for all these kids who’d never earned less than an A- in their 18 blesséd years, sir, by my troth! The professor said we could add AN ENTIRE LETTER GRADE to our grade if we… outlined the entire Divine Comedy. That’s… a trilogy of epic poems. It was an assignment that would later save my soul. But that’s another story. Imagine thirty sweating honors class freshmen, some of whom had scholarships riding on their GPA, others—far more importantly—had their entire self-worth riding on their GPA. All of us faced Thanksgiving Break with the shame of a B. It had just become Thanksgiving “Break”. There were three weeks from Thanksgiving until finals, when the assignment was due. Three weeks in the inferno—or, if one paced oneself correctly, one would only spend one week in Inferno, one in Purgatorio, and the last in Paradiso. Oh, let me tell you, how those freshmen rejoiced their way through Paradiso. Well, maybe the final canto. Paradiso’s a bit of a slog, dramatically. Want to see a textbook definition of subclinical triggering? Just whisper “Bernard of Clairvaux” to any veteran of Dr. Sundahl’s H ENG 101. *insert meme here* The angel on my right shoulder: *No, really, don’t.* All this is prologue. (Dizzam, bruh, that’s some Jordan-esque level prologue.) On to the review. I was glad to see that after 20 years, Dante hasn’t become dated. Ages well, Ol’ Danny Alighieri. Okay, fine. I should say, “more dated”. One thing in particular struck me repeatedly about Dante, reading him now as a 39-year-old fantasy writer, versus reading him as an 18-year-old college freshman, and I mean so oft-repeated I felt like my face belonged to a P.I. in a noir novel–I mean repeatedly like the bass thunder from the stereo in a 75hp Honda owned by that pepperoni-faced dude who thinks he’s auditioning for Fastest and Even More Furiousest Than Evar: The chutzpah. The sheer audacity. Dante was writing the work without which he would be forgotten by most everyone except Italian lit majors. He’s coming into this famous but soon to be forgotten, like the English Poet Laureate Robert Southey–you’ve heard of him, right? No. So before Dante’s written his Great Book, he presumes himself into the company of the all-time greats. (He deserves it, but he jumps into that place like that kid challenging Mario Andretti to a quick couple laps for pink slips.) But not only that. He, a Christian (if one who finds himself lost along the Way in the dark wood of middle age), readily consigns foes and even acquaintances—some not yet dead, if I remember correctly—to Hell. If there’s one thing the modern mainstream Christian doesn’t do, it’s to presume the eternal destination of others. As C.S. Lewis said, (paraphrasing) “When we get to Heaven, there will be surprises.” That lack of presumption is bolstered on our culture’s favorite partial Scripture “Judge not lest ye be judged” which goes on “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Most Christians today are like, “Yeah, I’d prefer a really lenient measure, thanks. So I’ll just not presume to judge anyone else, either. Plus, not judging at all gets me thrown out of way fewer parties.” Dante, not so much. He’s like, “This pope from a few years back? Totally burning in Hell, right now. Look at the evil he did!” Dante does this while, as far as I can tell (as a non-medievalist, and no longer even a Roman Catholic) remaining himself orthodox. He doesn’t question the pope’s authority as it was understood then. Check this example out: that evil pope who himself is burning in hell? He’d corrupted one of his own courtiers, who had previously been some kind of shady guy, but repented, turning his back on all the evil he’d done earlier in his life. (Think like Godfather 3.) The kicker? Evil Popey makes him go back! (“I try to get out and the Pope (!) keeps pulling me back in!”) Evil Pope gets him to betray some folks, by promising our repentant Michael Corleone, “Hey, yeah what I’m asking you to do is evil, but I’ll forgive you for all this evil you do for me. I’m the Vicar of Christ, so I can totally give you an Evil Pass.” So the courtier does said evil stuff. And gets ‘pardoned’. Now the demons in hell that Dante encounters are super pissed, because “Hey, that guy should totally belong to us! He did evil stuff!” But Dante DOESN’T question that the evil pope effectively uses a loophole to get around God’s perfect justice. Nope. That courtier guy is heading for heaven—except the demons later tricked him into committing suicide by demons, a sin for which the pope apparently forgot to preemptively forgive him for. This whole episode is listed as proof that the pope was evil: he used his authority to pervert eternal justice. That’s really, really bad. Later Protestants would say, “This is redonkulus! No one gets to use a loophole to escape God! That’s the whole point of eternal justice: often on Earth justice isn’t served, but we can deal with that because we know no one can escape God’s justice. If your doctrine lets people fool God, your doctrine is wack, yo. [Also, that you have Evil Popes in the first place seems to point out a problem in your system.]” Dante’s audacity though, goes further than merely presuming himself in the company of the greatest of the greats, and also being comfortable judging the quick and the dead: Dante sets out to out-epic Homer and Virgil. Homer [with a battered old harp, ratty beard, and mismatched sandals–dude’s blind, give him a break on the fashion policing, people]: “Friends, Achaians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’mma tell you about big war and a big voyage with the ideal Greek man.” Homer’s poetry and story-telling, his nuance and his imagery would capture and define an entire culture, and deeply influence many others through the present. It’s hard to overstate his impact. Virgil [strides forth in a solid gold toga, taking a bit of snuff from a slave]: “No offense, old sport, but your hero was bollocks, Homes. He was actually the bad chap, and not nearly as wonderful as you make him out to be. Let’s talk about that Trojan War thing, and I’ll subvert the Hades out of your narrative.” Oh snap. Virgil is a master of poetry and storytelling who is self-consciously telling the story of an entire people and their founding mythos, (small) warts and all (sorry ’bout that, Dido! a real James Bond always loves ’em and leaves ’em… burning!). Virgil meant his epic to be studied and admired by audiences high and low, and he meant to define his Romans as the best of the best. Sort of “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward Rome.” Dante [ambles up in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and bell-bottoms]: “You guys are far out. Wish I could have heard your stuff, Home-bre, I’ve heard it’s real groovy, but the Saracens haven’t invaded yet with their hippie zeal to give us the LP bootleg translations of your work from the Greek. Sing it for me sometime. I’m sure I’ll dig it. Anyway, bros, thanks for inviting me to your drum circle here, but never start a land war in Asia unless you’re the Mongols, never get in a wit-fight to the death with a guy named Westley, and never, ever invite John Bonham to your drum circle. You guys thought small. Nah, it’s cool and everything, but really? Some guy on a boat? Some other pious guy on a different boat who lost a war to the first guy? I’mma let you finish swiftly here, but I’m going to tell the story of all creation, do world-building that includes the entire universe—both the physical and metaphysical worlds: earth, hell, purgatory, and heaven, AND show how my main man Jesus changed everything, aided in my quest by numerous holy Jesus groupie chicks and the spirit of Virgil himself. Hope you’re down with that, Virg. I mean, you’re an Italian, I’m an Italian, we’re pretty much bros, but I’m like your intellectual successor and stuff? Oh yeah, and because I’m after Christ, I really have an unfair advantage on you, because you were the bee’s knees. Seriously, love your stuff, I even own the b-sides of your pastoral poetry. So if I’m a little better than you, it’s purely happenstance: You came before Ludwig drums and Remo drumheads, man! If someone told you ‘More cowbell!’ you’lda been like ‘A cowbell? In music? What’s next, balancing a shield on a post and banging on it with a stick?!’ By the way, I use Paiste cymbals. I’ll show you later.” That story of all creation includes the pagans. Dante also sets about to reconcile, or at least appropriate, the gods and monsters of antiquity—though sometimes not very successfully. I’m like, Hey, big D, if some of the figures of Greek mythology are real, are all of them? If they’re real and they did some of the stuff we’ve heard they did, where was God in that? Are these all actually just demons just playin’ around? Fess up, c’mon. You can tell me, buddy, I understand. You just wanted monsters, didn’tcha? You got stuck on that one part and were like, How can I get Dante and Virgil out of this one? Oh, I know! A big ass dragon flies up out of the pit, scares the bejeepers out of them, and then totally lets them become the Dragonriders of Burn and head on down further! Oh, did I mention that while doing all this, Dante maintains that he’s writing on four levels at once: 1) The literal (which, you know, literally means the literal, the stuff that happens—hey, I write on that level too!). 2) The allegorical (that is, there’s what he calls “truth hidden beneath a beautiful fiction”) so being lost in a dark wood in your middle years might be an allegory for getting lost in your life, or even a mid-life crisis. 3) The moral (which explores the ethical implications of a work of fiction) so what do you think about Odysseus sitting on the beach crying to go home to his wife every day, and then banging goddesses every night? What do you learn about the power of hope or forgiveness when Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader? That’s the moral level; and 4) The anagogical. Yeah, you’re not going to see this word unless you’re talking about Dante, I’d guess. I had to look it up again. I was honestly proud of myself for merely remembering the word. The anagogical is a level of spiritual interpretation. This is when the work captures something that is eternally true. In a Platonic sense, it would be when you step out of the cave and instead of looking at shadows on the wall of thing that are True, you look at the things themselves. For Dante, this is of course expounding scripture in a way that captures “a part of the supernal things of eternal glory”. (Supernal: being of, or coming from, on high.) This is the level where you say, the characters Dante and his guide Virgil are hiking up Mt Purgatory, but Virgil is literally Virgil, a great poet who lived before Christ and thus is a pagan, so when Dante and Virgil get to the top of Mt Purgatory, Virgil can’t get into Heaven—you need Jesus for that. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. None come to the Father except through me”. (Virgil’s not exactly being punished for being a pagan; he gets to hang out talking with all the other awesome pagans forever.) But Virgil is ALSO an embodiment of Reason, so when Virgil and Dante reach a rad curtain of fire up on the top of Mt Purgatory, Virgil can (as Reason) say, “Bro, you got this. You know there’s people on the other side. You know this is the only way to get there. You therefore know they jumped through this curtain. Ergo, you won’t get fried. Probably. Well, at least not everyone who jumps through gets a thermite sun-tan.” But Reason can’t go through that curtain himself. The thing that makes you jump through a curtain of fire isn’t, ultimately, reason. Reason can’t get you to Heaven. Thus, the anagogic lesson is that belief is, ultimately, an act of the will. Or, in the common phrase of which this scene may be the origin, one must take a Leap of Faith. Did I mention Dante’s doing this while writing poetry? And apparently his poetry is pretty good? (Not knowing Italian, I can’t say. The Sayers translation I read in college was way more beautiful than the Clive James version I listened to this time. Sorry, Clive, personal preference.) Now, I should probably address the world-building, too, seeing how world-building is something fantasy writers ought to know something about. (Yes, hecklers in the back, I hear you. Notice the caveat ‘ought to’? Now run along and play. With scissors.) In the mind of your inconsistently humble correspondent, Dante’s world-building is bold, presumptuous, brilliant, and a blithering mess. Whereas Dante’s treatment of pagan mythology would likely appeal to the common reader and just as likely outrage scholars who knew enough to ask questions, in his world-building, he seems to completely ignore the common readers, and go straight for the art- and map-geeks. You’ve probably seen those elaborate medieval drawings of the world Dante lays out. (I don’t even know if most of them are faithful to the text or even agree with each other, other than the order of the circles of hell and the like.) On the one hand, this world-building is ingenious. Stunning. (Anyone know if he borrowed most of this, or invented most of it? I know he was synthesizing a lot of speculation and Christian cosmology, but I don’t know how much of his work on this is original.) It all hangs together, literally and symbolically and morally. Satan is at the center of gravity? Like, literally? At first, you’re like, “Huh?” Well, he’s got to have his head visible in hell; he’s the king there, and he’s got to be scary. How scary is a guy with buried head-down with his butt in the air like a North Dakotan bike rack? (Sorry, old Montanan North Dakota joke there.) But when you think further, well, hell has inverted values, so after you come past him at the center of gravity, and into a vast crater–he left a giant crater when he was thrown out of heaven. Of course he did! And here he IS head down and not so scary, but he’s also head down because he’s buried in his sin. He’s at the bottom of a pit. Of course he is! He’s denied the light of heaven, his face must be buried. And so on. But most of the things that I caught on this second listening, I caught only because of the art I’d seen, and the explication of college professors and footnotes back when I’d read it before. Those professors taught me that the common way for people to experience a book during Dante’s time was most usually that someone would stand and read it to everyone else. (Audiobooks go WAY back.) This is a terrible way to experience what he’s doing, though. When you only listen to the Divine Comedy, there’s no way for you to understand a lot of the imagery. Not a real quote, but a realistic one: “Then I turned left 90 degrees, and saw, up at the point where the sun was crossing the mountain, another path veering to starboard under the sign of the Cygnus at the fourth hour of the morning” oh, and time moves differently in Purgatory. Or something. I still don’t get that part. This kind of world-building doesn’t work at all for the medium. Certainly the first listeners wouldn’t have any art or maps to help them figure this stuff out in real time, while the reciter continues reciting the poetry describing this weird journey. So it’s definitely weird, it’s opaque, and it’s kind of bad art–at least, bad world-building for what is, at core, more of a travelogue than an epic adventure. But it works… for the artists and the map-geeks, who fan art the hell out of it. Now, I call Dante’s world-building presumptuous because leaving the explanations for all the weirdness intelligible ONLY to those geeks ONLY works because Dante was famous. If he hadn’t been famous already, people would go, “Huh, this doesn’t make sense to me. So it probably doesn’t make sense. What garbage.” So it kind of works in the way Ikea instructions work–if you’ve got a bunch of Ikea engineers in your living room to help you out: “Oh, that was a concise way to explain that… now that you did it all for me.” Dan, my boy, that is some… what’s the term for accurate hubris? Oh, self-confidence. I guess it’s still that even when the SELF-CONFIDENCE IS GIANT, YO! All this! Look at all that! He’s doing all that… and more. At the SAME time! All that, and then… Dante flinches. Dante gets daunted. Bro! Bro. When this pilgrim who has had to fight past so many lesser demons (using his special access badge that says, I’m-on-a-holy-mission-one-of-the-roadies-from-JC-and-the-Sonshine-Band-says-it’s-cool) finally makes it to Satan’s circle and crosses the frozen lake of Coccytus, do you know what Satan says? Do you know how Satan addresses the first non-traitor to visit Satan since he was thrown out of Heaven? Satan himself… just doesn’t notice. Sure, the big guy is busy gnawing on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius but he’d been gnawing on those guys for thirteen hundred years! But nope. Satan says nothing. There’s no, “Yeah, I let you come all the way down here by my satanic will. It was all a trap. Now you can rot with the worst of them. I am literally going to eat your idiot face for eternity!” There’s no big rescue from the monstrously huge arms and hands as that giant is stuck in the frozen lake of Coccytus. No last minute rescue by an angel. Nope, Satan just doesn’t notice. Even when Dante grabs onto his hairy ass and climbs around him through the center of the universe where gravity reverses itself and climbs out to go to Mt Purgatory, literally past his butthole. Satan. Doesn’t. Notice. Doesn’t notice the man playing George of the Jungle on his hairy hip. And climbing…Past. His. Butt. Weaksauce, Ali D! Lotta buildup to go limp at the finish! It’s like you’ve never played a video game in your life. I’m sure someone can defend it. Great literature of this magnitude will always inspire defenders. But just because something is great in... (READ MORE AT http://www.brentweeks.com/2017/08/wha...)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    I must confess that so much was beyond my comprehension; but I think that is the mark of a great work of art...it allows you to take what you can from it from where you are. I was so happy when I finished this book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    Written for the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament (sung to the tune of "Minnie The Moocher") Folks, heres a story about Winnie the Pooh-cher He was a chubby Pooh-chie-koocher He was fat and loved his honey but he was sweet and his heart was sunny (chorus) Hunny-Hunny-Hunny-hi Hundee-hundee-hunndee-ho Pigletee-pigletee-hee Tiggery-Tiggery--Ho He met a dude whose name was Virgil who hung around in hellish circles. He took the bear to hell for a match where he planned to kick Pooh's ass. {chorus)Pooh saw t Written for the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament(sung to the tune of "Minnie The Moocher")Folks, here´s a story about Winnie the Pooh-cherHe was a chubby Pooh-chie-koocherHe was fat and loved his honey but he was sweet and his heart was sunny(chorus)Hunny-Hunny-Hunny-hiHundee-hundee-hunndee-hoPigletee-pigletee-heeTiggery-Tiggery--HoHe met a dude whose name was Virgilwho hung around in hellish circles.He took the bear to hell for a matchwhere he planned to kick Pooh's ass.{chorus)Pooh saw things that curled his toesThings that burned and things that glowed.Pooh said, "Hey this isn't funny!And I don't see one ounce of honey."(chorus)Virgil said, "Remember where you are.This is hell not "Dancing with the Stars.Where people pay for their mortal sinsAnd I wonder Pooh, where your sins' been."Pooh now felt out of his league.For he knew hoarding honey was GreedAnd he wasn't the most energetic bloke"Oh dear! Sloth's a sin! Is there no hope?"(chorus)Virgil laughed and was enjoying his victory.When Beatrice descended and his win was history.Beatrice squealed like a schoolgirl in joy."Oh, what a cutie! A little Pooh Toy!.(chorus)Beatrice grabbed Pooh, to heaven he was lifted Where she cuddled him in eternal kissesThe moral of this tale is simple but cleverBeing terminally cute beats all Lucifer's levels.(chorus)Yea Win! Yea Win, Yea Win.(With apologies to Cab Calloway) flag 27 likes · Like  · see review View all 6 comments Nov 28, 2015 فؤاد rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: صد-کتاب-برتر-گاردین, اساطیر-ادیان ریویوی دوزخ:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...ریویوی برزخ:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...ریویوی بهشت:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... flag 28 likes · Like  · see review View all 4 comments Oct 29, 2011 Manny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: celebrity-death-match, life-is-dante, transcendent-experiences, science-fiction, why-not-call-it-poetry For the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament, The Divine Comedy versus 1984Gabriel, Michael and RaphaelCelestial ArchitectsEternityDear Mr. O'Brien,Thank you for your response to our recent tender. After due deliberation, we must regretfully inform you that we have decided not to implement your interesting plan for restructuring and downsizing the afterlife.Our accounting department confirms your statement that it would be more cost-effective only to retain Hell and wind up operations in Purg For the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament, The Divine Comedy versus 1984Gabriel, Michael and RaphaelCelestial ArchitectsEternityDear Mr. O'Brien,Thank you for your response to our recent tender. After due deliberation, we must regretfully inform you that we have decided not to implement your interesting plan for restructuring and downsizing the afterlife.Our accounting department confirms your statement that it would be more cost-effective only to retain Hell and wind up operations in Purgatory and Paradise. This would, however, directly conflict with our mission statement, which involves offering the chance of salvation to each and every soul. Our senior counsel, based on numerous precedents, contests your claim that this is in principle equivalent with "a boot grinding a human face, forever".We appreciate your ingenious compromise suggestion that the "integrated afterlife experience", as you describe it, could be administered by a board chaired by the late Pope Boniface VIII, and accept that this offer was made in good faith. None the less, our feeling is that Signor Boniface is not in all respects a suitable person to fill this role. The above notwithstanding, we are agreeable to implementing several of the specific points listed in Appendix C which concern improvements to the current structure of Hell. In particular, we will shortly be commencing an upgrade programme according to which the jaws of His Infernal Majesty will be substantially expanded. We are pleased to inform you that the work will be completed well before your own demise, according to our records scheduled for April 19, 1993, and we have already reserved a place for you next to Signor Cassius.Yours sincerely,Gabriel flag 26 likes · Like  · see review View all 9 comments May 19, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: poetry, italy, classics, my-own-books, read-2014 I am so glad for the Divine Comedy and Decameron group for providing the structure and encouragement which provided the impetus for my finally reading this classic! I am also very pleased that I decided to read John Ciardi's translation as his synopsis and notes added immeasurably to my reading. While personally I found Dante's travel's through Hell occasionally difficult, the Purgatorio and Paradiso (except for the first few scholarly cantos) flowed with beautiful poetry. And through it all, Da I am so glad for the Divine Comedy and Decameron group for providing the structure and encouragement which provided the impetus for my finally reading this classic! I am also very pleased that I decided to read John Ciardi's translation as his synopsis and notes added immeasurably to my reading. While personally I found Dante's travel's through Hell occasionally difficult, the Purgatorio and Paradiso (except for the first few scholarly cantos) flowed with beautiful poetry. And through it all, Dante maintained his amazing, and consistent, vision.No wonder this has stood the test of time. flag 25 likes · Like  · see review View all 12 comments Feb 01, 2014 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition How in the World (or Inferno or Purgatorio or Paradiso) am I supposed to review this work? I could review the edition and translator, though I have nothing else to compare them against. Ciardi's notes at the end of each canto are always illuminating, sometimes funny and occasionally self-deprecating. I chuckled at Ciardi's humor and was appreciative of his honesty whenever he used a rhyme-forced addition, as well as the instance or two when he asked the reader to forgive his less-than-perfect po How in the World (or Inferno or Purgatorio or Paradiso) am I supposed to review this work? I could review the edition and translator, though I have nothing else to compare them against. Ciardi's notes at the end of each canto are always illuminating, sometimes funny and occasionally self-deprecating. I chuckled at Ciardi's humor and was appreciative of his honesty whenever he used a rhyme-forced addition, as well as the instance or two when he asked the reader to forgive his less-than-perfect poetry. He's both thorough and entertaining.Use any adjective you'd like and it's bound to fit at least one part of Dante's work: condemnatory, fearful and exuberant; horrific, trepidatious and jubilant; political, personal and universal: there's really no point in my going on, especially now that I've used three sets of three.I'd love to know what kind of person Dante became after finishing this work. He had to be changed in the course of its writing; it would be sad (and too human of him) to think otherwise. flag 21 likes · Like  · see review View all 14 comments Aug 13, 2018 samantha (books-are-my-life20) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition While a little hard to read at times but this is still a classic and a good read. flag 21 likes · Like  · see review Jul 24, 2015 poncho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: read-in-2015, favorites What can one say about The Divine Comedy that hasn't been said? An analysis? Many scholars have already done that — and quite outstandingly, I must say, to a degree that I would never achieve. A funny meta review of sorts? It's already been done. So I guess it's like Solomon said and there's no new thing under the sun about this masterpiece: it needs no explanations about its grandeur and it does itself justice.My only remaining words would be an endorsement upon this edition published by Oxford What can one say about The Divine Comedy that hasn't been said? An analysis? Many scholars have already done that — and quite outstandingly, I must say, to a degree that I would never achieve. A funny meta review of sorts? It's already been done. So I guess it's like Solomon said and there's no new thing under the sun about this masterpiece: it needs no explanations about its grandeur and it does itself justice.My only remaining words would be an endorsement upon this edition published by Oxford University Press, translated by C. H. Sisson. Regardless of the translation's unpopularity, it's absolutely well done, in blank verse, and the explanatory notes were completely helpful for me, since even though I knew many of the works to which Dante makes reference throughout the cantos (such as Ovid's Metamorphoses or Virgil's Aeneid or even The Bible), there were many other authors, political and pontifical personages, and works that I didn't. Furthermore, Dante, besides his undeniable mastery as a poet, was also somewhat of an astronomer, a theologian, a philosopher; so some of his verses can be quite obscure without proper guidance. For me, this edition provided me with everything I needed to know in a 200-paged section of explanatory notes. As I read a canto, I read the corresponding notes: a technique I took from one of Borges's stories. Then as I moved forward in the book I understood that Dante was a virtuoso in poetry, but as I read the notes and came to understand some lines that seemed as nothing more than metaphors that were part of the poem, I knew every single one of them is there for a reason, written by an author who was a genius indeed. flag 20 likes · Like  · see review View all 4 comments Sep 24, 2007 Solomon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition Sure--why not write a trite, pithy review of one of the great works of Western Literature? Fuck it! Yes, it's beautifully poetic, but Dante is also intolerably self-righteous and hilariously bitter in it, skewering, roasting, and tearing to pieces (quite literally) his detractors, enemies, and some people that he maybe just didn't like much. The tortures are sometimes hilarious and in no way biblical...it is disturbing to think that people used to believe a lot of this silliness...oh, and that s Sure--why not write a trite, pithy review of one of the great works of Western Literature? Fuck it! Yes, it's beautifully poetic, but Dante is also intolerably self-righteous and hilariously bitter in it, skewering, roasting, and tearing to pieces (quite literally) his detractors, enemies, and some people that he maybe just didn't like much. The tortures are sometimes hilarious and in no way biblical...it is disturbing to think that people used to believe a lot of this silliness...oh, and that some people still do. Although surely most modern Catholics (excepting, perhaps, the Appenines) don't think that the herds of Satan's chattel are so swollen with old Italian aristocracy. Funny to think of the same old people STILL being tortured now...maybe even Cain, and of course, Old Scratch himself, still locked in that sheet of ice. I'd be mad too. I think I'd probably cut a Vanni Fucci figure in hell...you're going to be tortured forever anyway...why not give god the finger and scream and fart every minute of the day and let everybody know what a bastard he is? The losers falling into line and cowering under the black pitch might as well grow some balls...Are you allowed to use naughty words on Goodreads? flag 19 likes · Like  · see review View all 6 comments Sep 23, 2017 Shyam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: poetry Everything it is to be a human being is brought to form and consequence within a single structure that makes The Divine Comedy the most massive metaphor of western culture." —From the Introduction"Midway in our life's journey, I went astrayfrom the straight road and woke to find myselfalone in a dark wood . . ."—Inferno, Canto I, 1-3I first heard those words from Don Draper in the trailer for the opening episode of Mad Men*'s sixth Season, when it first aired in 2013 . . .Fast forward 4 years.I' Everything it is to be a human being is brought to form and consequence within a single structure that makes The Divine Comedy the most massive metaphor of western culture." —From the Introduction"Midway in our life's journey, I went astrayfrom the straight road and woke to find myselfalone in a dark wood . . ."—Inferno, Canto I, 1-3I first heard those words from Don Draper in the trailer for the opening episode of Mad Men*'s sixth Season, when it first aired in 2013 . . .Fast forward 4 years.I'd been putting off reading The Divine Comedy because I knew that I would have to spend a couple of hours deciding on a translation †. When I finally decided to, I had that rendering of the first Canto in mind that I had heard on Mad Men, but I didn't know if it actually existed, or if someone on the show had taken an artistic liberty and changed an existing translation.I began comparing: I found Longfellow hard to follow; Mendelbaum flat. Finally, I came across Ciardi's translation. I loved it. Not just the opening of the first Canto, but the whole of the first Canto, and some other parts that I compared. For me, it strikes a perfect balance between readability and poetic melody.__________The edition that I read includes an Introduction, 13 diagrams, a short summary of the Canto at the start of each one, and 1-5 pages of Ciardi's extremely helpful, insightful, and at times, humorous notes‡, at the end of each Canto.I had read that Dante's magnum opus was very dense, and included lots of references, and use of literary techniques such as symbolism, allegory &c., but I didn't think to check if various editions included notes when I was ordering a copy.I was lucky. In my opinion, even if you know your scripture, church doctrine &c. inside out, know the topography of Italy better than your home country, and have a good knowledge of ancient history, you will still want a copy with notes for your first reading.The density is astounding, definitely the densest poem that I have read, and could definitely contend with, for example, Ulysses & The Sound and The Fury on this front.But Ciardi guides you through with a gentle hand, unravelling this masterwork with precision, diligence, and detail.When I was reading, I read the helpful summary (which includes some details like scene, and characters) first, then the actual Canto, then browsed the notes at my leisure. I didn't have a meticulous interest in the biblical references, so I only read enough of those notes to get a general understanding of the Canto in terms of the biblical references, and I also got a bit burned-out with the topological & historical Italian references that Dante was making, so again I didn't read all of these. But I read fully most of the other notes. These include textual information, notes on the translation (such as liberties he took), and literary explanations.The notes were detailed, and helped me to appreciate the complete genius of Dante infinitely more than if I had not consulted any notes. And again, this is something that I would absolutely recommend a first-time reader should do if they don't want to get lost and confused, and risk lack of understanding and boredom on Dante's divine journey.__________Like most people. I enjoyed the Inferno the most. Purgatory and Paradise I did enjoy, but to a lesser extent. But this mainly comes down to the subject matter. I do have a small interest in, but am not familiar with, church doctrine, scripture &c. at all. But you don't need this knowledge to appreciate Dante's literary genius on all fronts. "Dante must be read attentively: mind will reveal itself only to mind. But Dante is not difficult to read. It is true that he writes in depth and on many simultaneous levels. Yet his language is usually simple and straightforward. If the gold of Dante runs deep, it must also rise to the surface. A lifetime of reading cannot mine all that gold; yet enough lies on the surface, or only an inch below, to make a first reading a bonanza in itself. All one needs are some suggestions as to what to look for. Thereafter, one need only follow the vein as it goes deeper and deeper. One must, to begin with, think allegorically." __________A few quotes:There are always thosewho measure worth by popular acclaim,ignoring principles of art and reason—Purgatory, XXVI 120-122. . .within a cloud of flowersthat rose like fountains from the angel's handsand fell about in showers—Purgatory, XXX, 28 . . . and it lost Paradise by the same deed.Nor could they be regained . . .—Paradise, VII, 87And now, that every wish be granted you I turn back to explain a certain passage, that you may understand it as I do.—Paradise, VII, 121Here I concede defeat. No poet known, comic or tragic, challenged by his theme to show his power, was ever more outdone —Paradise, XXX, 22That he may experience all while yet alive —Inferno XXVIII, 48The instant I had come upon the sillof my second age and crossed andchanged my life —Purgatory XXX 124-125. . . with fruits of paradise. —Paradise XI, 123 So many streams of happiness flow downinto my mind that it grows self-delighting —Paradise XVI, 19-20 I have learned much that would, were itretold,offend the taste of many alive today. —Paradise XVII, 116-117. . . sees far beyondthe furthest limits —Paradise XIX, 56-57. . . for though he learnsthe sweet life, he has known the bitterway. —Paradise XX, 47-48The name of that Sweet Flower to which I praymorning and night, seized all my soul and moved it —Paradise XXIII, 88-89Into the gold of that rose that blooms eternal—Paradise XXX, 124. . . the two eternal roots of this our rose —Paradise XXXII, 120. . . to this flower of timeless beauty. —Paradise XXXII, 126__________* One of the best shows (part of my 'holy trinity') which, like Dante, is very dense, and uses lots of literary techniques which most viewers do not even realise, mistaking the show for a soap-opera with lots of adultery and nothing particularly deep to say. I have watched it multiple times, and have read multiple articles on each episode which delve fully into the literary techniques that Mad Men uses, and even after multiple viewings and reading multiple articles, I still have original views and insights on most episodes. Here is a website which links various reviews for each episode by season if I have piqued your interest. If you want to avoid information overload, Todd VanDerWerff, Alan Sepinwall, and Andrew Johnston are the most incisive and perceptive critics.http://tiredandboredwithmyself.com/th...† Personally, when it comes to poetry, I think that the poetic form of the author should be preserved as much as possible, and so I did not consider any literal translations.This short article discusses and compares four different translations by Zapulla, Mendelbaum, Hollander, and Ciardi.http://poems.com/special_features/pro...‡ Here are some excerpts from Ciardi's notes to Paradise:"Few readers will have remembered the point Dante left open in those lines, but Dante seems never to forget. To read him is to experience mind in extraordinary order."-Note to XX". . . though had he done so he would have found himself prophesying the end of the world within fairly tight limits, a prophecy Dante wisely chose not to utter. Poetry is, among other things, the art of knowing what to leave out."-Note to XX"The art of juxtaposing details in a way that constantly gives scale to an all-containing system of values is one of the marvels of Dante's genius."-Note to XXIII"The Muses gave suck to the poets, thereby transmitting to them the powers of song. How these virgin sisters maintained their milk supply is one more item to be filed among the sacred mysteries."-Note to XXIII"Adam declares that his whole sojourn in the Terrestrial Paradise was six hours (and perhaps part of the seventh). . . . Half an allegorical day is about as long as any man can stay innocent."-Note to XXVIBut even Ciardi, one or twice, has to bow before the Genius of Dante: ". . . Such questions must be referred to a quality of revelation unknown to footnotes." flag 18 likes · Like  · see review View all 12 comments Aug 19, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition I have travelled a goodly distance since I last read the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, and what a long strange trip its been. So, it was with an introspective bit of drollness that I embarked on this reread.I was fascinated with Inferno as a teenager and between Dante Alighieri and Robert Smith/Rimbaud it is, frankly, nothing short of a miracle that I didn't put enough reasons together to wind-up as a fleshy tree with harpies perched in my branches somewhere in the lower circles of hell--if I have travelled a goodly distance since I last read the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, and what a long strange trip its been. So, it was with an introspective bit of drollness that I embarked on this reread.I was fascinated with Inferno as a teenager and between Dante Alighieri and Robert Smith/Rimbaud it is, frankly, nothing short of a miracle that I didn't put enough reasons together to wind-up as a fleshy tree with harpies perched in my branches somewhere in the lower circles of hell--if you catch my drift. Yeah, I was one tortured soul...Now, I seem to have arrived in the dread "Existance Age" of my life. In evidence, I need only cite my thinning hair, second mortgage, life insurance, and All American guilt complex. This is also why it's taking me longer than necessary to read Richard Ford's Independence Day--each line just seems like something I'm thinking, and it's hard to be objective with the reading and view it simply as a book. And, it may very well explain why, as I listened to The Divine Comedy with this audiobook edition, I found Purgatorio so fascinating--when as a teenager I couldn't skim through it fast enough.The Divine Comedy is more of a journey than a book, and as a journey it has stages and waypoints... also its not a trip everyone needs to take. I, for one, never plan on visiting Meca or for that matter, the Mormon General Conference; they're just not my kinds of trips. But, having grow-up in a Televangelist Supercult, The Divine Comedy is just the right kind of retrospective for me. Reasons are abundant but are typified by the way the book helps me look objectively at my spiritual life. Here is the short list: First, according to Dante, pretty much everybody in hell is Italian and Catholic; second, my tattoo fantasies of the illustrations by Gustave Dore; third, the striking absense of a bathroom break; fourth the paragraph-long metaphores which fill each canto in the same way a bazaar of guillemots might fill something bigger than a breadbox but smaller than a dinghy if there was but some form of guillemot filling aparatus or perhaps a working decoy; fifth, placing people I dislike in different levels of hell--BTW I've decided Walter Kirn is my arch-enemy; and sixth (but hardly last) the unanswerable question of why Dante is obsessed with a woman who isn't his wife and figures her in the seat of grace while the woman he's married to is no doubt fixing his meals, cleaning his dishes, and caring for his kids, while he is writing the Divine Comedy (like some kind of Catholic Penthouse Forum Letter) and this is somehow OK because he still makes it to heaven.I'll be honest, I've never been able to finish The Divine Comedy. I get to wandering around in Paradiso like a redneck in Walmart and keep on loosing my place due to profound boredom (unlike a redneck in Walmart). Afterall, "Heaven is a place," to quote David Byrne, "a place where nothing ever happens." Maybe someday Paradiso will be the part I just can't get enough of, but for now I'm content with my life in purgatory. I kind of like the idea that I can impress people just by casting a shadow and meeting old friends in really uncomfortable situations. flag 18 likes · Like  · see review View 2 comments Mar 22, 2018 Henry Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: permanent-collection I've been slowly chewing my way through this one for a while. There are already so many reviews that what I have to add seems unimportant. In crux - the writing is wonderful, the theme relevant today as much as when it was written (minus the contemporary Florentine politics, which are noted throughout the work) and the journey of soul towards transcendence all-encompassing. It's not an easy work to read, but then again, none of the great ones are. Should everyone read it? Everyone should at leas I've been slowly chewing my way through this one for a while. There are already so many reviews that what I have to add seems unimportant. In crux - the writing is wonderful, the theme relevant today as much as when it was written (minus the contemporary Florentine politics, which are noted throughout the work) and the journey of soul towards transcendence all-encompassing. It's not an easy work to read, but then again, none of the great ones are. Should everyone read it? Everyone should at least try. My copy is the John Ciardi translation put out by The Franklin Library, with engravings by Gustav Dore. The engravings are a wonderful addition to the text. flag 20 likes · Like  · see review View all 10 comments Dec 15, 2013 Antonomasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Shelves: 2013, italy, medieval-works, religion, poetry, ebooks-kindle [Clive James translation]At the mid-point of the path through life, I found Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way Ahead was blotted out. The keening sound I still make shows how hard it is to say How harsh and bitter that place felt to me— Merely to think of it renews the fear— So bad that death by only a degree Could possibly be worse. As you shall hear, It led to good things too, eventually,But there and then I saw no sign of those, And can’t say even now how I had come To be there, stunned a [Clive James translation]At the mid-point of the path through life, I found Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way Ahead was blotted out. The keening sound I still make shows how hard it is to say How harsh and bitter that place felt to me— Merely to think of it renews the fear— So bad that death by only a degree Could possibly be worse. As you shall hear, It led to good things too, eventually,But there and then I saw no sign of those, And can’t say even now how I had come To be there, stunned and following my nose Away from the straight path.I'd just got round to having a look through this new translation. After reading the above how could I not keep going? It was near enough the perfect time for me to read it, and I bolted the thing whole in 24 hours. Joanna Kavenna's Inglorious - a modern existential novel unfortunately mis-jacketed as chicklit, which I read earlier this year - took "Dante's mid-point of life", half threescore years and ten, as its starting point. Without that accidental prequel, I may not have been so primed. (And as long as I can remember I'd seen 35 as the big crunch in the way that most people seem to see 30. Possibly the fault of Martin Amis, whom I read in my teens and who makes it a pivotal age for some characters - perhaps he took it from Dante.)Best of all, this doesn't feel like a translation: this is so good it feels like poetry itself. I've read quite a bit of translated poetry this year and the only other edition that had this effect was Edna St. Vincent Millay's Fleurs du Mal. Perhaps neither is the closest to the original; that's not, perhaps, the point: as a reading experience rather than an academic crib-sheet, each is wonderful. Of course there's the occasional off-note here - how could there not be in 500 pages? - but this really is a virtuoso work, and I think the fuss is justified. It was for a long while impossible to correlate this beautiful poetry with that loud, sarky Australian bloke off the telly. (Who also had the temerity to write multiple volumes of memoirs - a practice which, as I remembered when I read Maya Angelou's Caged Bird recently, as a kid I seem to have been brought up to look down on; egotism should not be so overt.) That perceived incongruity, the sense of "does not compute", is a compliment, really: he's able to assume different registers so completely that I could have thought he was two separate people. However! Many translators or classic authors include innuendo which appears to be unintentional. (In an interview, the ubiquitous Pevear & Volokhonsky even referred to being confronted about this by an editor and insisting on retaining it although - IMO - it's distracting.) In Clive James' Divine Comedy there are occasional pieces of innuendo, subtly associated words and sensuality which look much too carefully placed to be anything but deliberate. A writer who was mischievously grinning at it too and who understands the skill of it - wonderful!Readers who appreciate that sort of thing will probably also enjoy the little references the translator includes. Sort-of anachronistic, but not so in terms of producing a stunningly erudite epic poem which communicates with its readers. (In any case, there was no Divine Comedy translation into English until the late 18th century - if that's the only language you read well enough, it's futile to pretend towards the entirely authentick.) A few favourites I spotted: marvellous boy (Thomas Chatterton), misshapes, Bedazzled (with a capital), the fault in our stars, pale fire, late and soon (Wordsworth), the bit that put 'The Fool on the Hill' in my head though it's probably not close enough to the lyrics to quote. And, I've no idea if Clive James has any acquaintance with contemporary superhero comics, but: the sheer abundance of their flying - marvel, now – .My previous experience of reading Dante was also a little unconventional, though not in terms of reading speed: about 15 years ago I read the Penguin Mark Musa Inferno and about half of Purgatorio, mostly in stonkingly unconducive settings like a music festival and working in a nightclub cloakroom. (My powers of concentration were never as good as you might infer from this. After all, I did give up.) I don't have the Musa editions to hand; whilst I do remember them being more interesting than expected, there wasn't this scale of wow. Whether that's because of me changing, or a better book, or both - dunno. Though of course after this, I'd recommend the Clive James to others who've previously abandoned Dante and wouldn't mind another go. The Picador edition of the Clive James also has no notes. (Though some extra background info is incorporated into the text of the poem.) It's so wonderfully freeing and immediate*. I nearly always opt for notes but - and I'd hardly let anyone get away with this - I loved being told that for once I couldn't really have them. That's all very well for you to say, you're an ex-Catholic who's studied medieval history. True, but I am quite rusty and the history is a bit earlier than the stuff I know best; this was more a case of recognising lots of names whilst not being sure what they did. Anyway, on the subject of the Italian Wars (15th-16th century version, but not dissimilar to the delightfully named Guelphs and Ghibellines) I never met a tutor who didn't acknowledge that they were just a dull and fiddly background to more interesting things. Much of the time I simply let the poetry flow; poetry does that. It's straight into the vein; felt rather than thought; for me reading poetry is like being on an escalator where prose is climbing a staircase. When I wanted to look up things behind the book's back, the Wikipedia list of cultural references in The Divine Comedy covered nearly everything I wanted to know. (With the exception of: William Longsword who was kept in a cage - and none of the chaps so named elsewhere on Wiki have this in their biogs; some saints mentioned in Paradiso - perhaps the Wikipedian gave up near the end; and one that you need abstruse knowledge to query in the first place, Dante saying Aquarius is near the beginning of the year - the English year began on 25th March.) So, in brief (!), the three parts.InfernoThis is why some people tag TDC as Fantasy! It is so much like all those adventure-film journeys into molten pits with monsters. And often it made me think about how lucky I was as a child to be told in religious contexts "nobody really believes in hell any more". (Ranting old Irish priests were irrelevant and could be safely ignored). I've since known people who, in childhood, did live in constant terror of hell when they did the smallest thing wrong, experiences which make understandable Hitchens' ostensibly hyperbolic description of religion as child abuse. Dante's Inferno makes me understand anew, more deeply than ever, why and what you might be terrified of. I was hit full-on by the idea that millions of people lived their whole lives feeling that this was all true and certain, and how horrific that was - most of all that they felt there was no escape, that death may well not be an end to suffering, that extreme suffering may never end. The medieval mindset: so much trauma and brutality and loss all around. And that formed such bizarre logic, was so unforgiving and vengeful in an Old Testament style. Not what plenty of people would colloquially call "Christian" now: eternal torture for torturers, as well as for plenty of people who by many modern standards had done (practically) nothing wrong at all. (My theological history is rusty and generalised.)PurgatorioAt first it perhaps doesn't seem so exciting, or so visual, as Inferno, and the groups of residents aren't quite so clearly labelled; the poetry, though, especially the beginnings of most cantos, is noticeably beautiful. It is evident that this was a civilisation which for the most part believed in learning and change through fear and punishment: The sin of envy meets its scourge In this round, and of that scourge every thong Flaying that disposition must emerge From love. And thus the curb that speaks against The sin must sing the virtue.Feel sad for medieval people spending their whole lives that way with no choice. (Also that I'm being patronising and imposing values of l.C20th western psychology.) Wonder if many of them would seem wildly disruptive or severe, and violent and fearful if they materialised now; Genghis Khan in Bill and Ted was kind of an extreme example - like that but a bit less.Whilst its main theme is almost as universal as Christianity, a lot of TDC is about Dante's mates or people who'd have been on the medieval equivalent of the regional news in his area. (A re-read after revising some of the history would be interesting.) Clive James' introduction mentions that even soon after publication many readers needed glosses because they didn't know who all these folk were either. In this respect, Dante is much like (the bawdier, briefer, Frencher, later) Francois Villon - and both big their own talent up in their verses almost as much as the average rapper. Later medieval european poet schtick? I'd have to read more to find out. The range of references recalls the smallness of even an educated person's world before printing: the local, the Biblical, the Classical; other countries are represented only by renowned kings, warriors and saints, or vague stereotypes. ParadisoReading The Divine Comedy was also a journey upward in mood (surely intended to inspire the original audience to greater religiosity). The horrors of hell by now seemed quite far away, in another world. The final section was also a blast from the past, personally - not just because the story of a journey into the underworld is one of the oldest around, Gilgamesh and Orpheus to name but two predecessors. As I may have mentioned before - or perhaps it's only in the mega-posts about God is not Great that I never finish or actually post - I had a voluntary phase of being quite strongly religious, aged about 7-9. (Its main focus was obsessive re-reading of Sixty Saints for Girls by Joan Windham.) During this time I would experience a sort of high from thoughts of religious devotion and aspiration, or from solitary prayer and chosen small self-denials, and regardless of actual belief, that high is occasionally re-awakened now by works of art about Christian worship. They don't even have to mean it - one of the strongest effects I can recall was from Luis Buñuel's satirical Simón del desierto . I experienced it again whilst reading Paradiso: buzzy calm, a liking for certain mild asceticisms, a background sense of safety and devotion, breathing changes and all. The poetry was still beautiful but I wasn't reading it as quite the same nitpicky person, more beatific. What I did notice was how effectively the verse conveyed someone trying to describe something too amazing to describe: it really was as if he'd seen it, not only imagined it. The last third of Paradiso, though not so much the very end cantos, is really lots of ways of saying "WOW". I couldn't help but be charmed by it; it's nice to see someone made truly happy by a thing even if I disagree with it.Perhaps the most distinctively medieval-European part of Dante's Paradise (and a bizarre one to many readers, probably) is courtly love and Beatrice herself, that the loved one is ranked with saints and silently worshipped like one - and that that's absolutely fine. No cries of "idolatry!", or "unhealthy!". I for one find it very sweet, because, most importantly he never bothers her about it. And having had somewhat similar tendencies of my own towards a few lovers (a pattern almost certainly rooted in the relationship of those girl saints to Jesus in the aforementioned book), it was just nice to see someone else on that narrow little wavelength for once.Another aspect of Catholicism I very rarely think or hear about now is the geekiness: lots of names of things to learn and remember. There are plenty of saints mentioned in Paradiso (really??), some of whom I'd not heard of for a long time, and I recalled for the first time in ages how saints were, in childhood, another thing with neatly categorisable attributes to learn, and spot (on pictures in different churches, for example)- in much the same way as birds, animals and cars were. (I used to be such a geek about cars; it's easy to do when you're a kid because you're nearer the height of the badges, model names, and engine capacity labels, and once you've started remembering those hooks it's easy to stick things on them.) Anyway, unfortunately none of these lesser-known saints were on the Wikipedia list and they needed separate searches. This ability to understand parts of religion from the inside is one of the reasons I have difficulties with stricter parts of atheist doctrine. I find this understanding useful as a way of empathising with or just not much minding the devout, (who, let's face it, are not disappearing from the world any time soon) and it was probably good training for life in general to spend an hour or two a week being patiently bored with people I disagreed with in RE lessons and church services, once I'd decided, aged 10, that religion wasn't for me after all. Obviously The Divine Comedy, even if it made me emotionally re-experience some of the sensations of religion, didn't convert me back. The triumphal feeling though, of "Yessss! I've actually finished that" (dizzying and surreal because it was unplanned and so swift) was tempered with something calmer and more benevolent. This is a lovely and astoundingly skilful translation simply as poetry, and I look forward to looking back through it.*Another reviewer put it better: " the freedom and luxury of just reading the damn thing as a narrative is so exhilarating". flag 16 likes · Like  · see review View 2 comments Dec 08, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Nel mezzo del cammin del nostra vita/ Mi ritrovai per una universita oscura/ Che la diritta via era smarita// Ahi quant a dir' qual'era... In the middle of my life, I found myself in a snowy waste, -28 F real temperature, not wind chill, driving my pregnant wife to St Joseph's Hospital for the birth of our first child Emily, now a lawyer in Milano. Difficult to say, una cosa dura, but not really... After all, I was in a snowy waste, not Dante's invented Inferno. In order to deliver my child, my Nel mezzo del cammin del nostra vita/ Mi ritrovai per una universita oscura/ Che la diritta via era smarita// Ahi quant a dir' qual'era... In the middle of my life, I found myself in a snowy waste, -28 F real temperature, not wind chill, driving my pregnant wife to St Joseph's Hospital for the birth of our first child Emily, now a lawyer in Milano. Difficult to say, una cosa dura, but not really... After all, I was in a snowy waste, not Dante's invented Inferno. In order to deliver my child, my wife had to go down fourteen snowy steps, get into a VW Bug with an electrical cord to its oilpan heater, and wait for me to put the car battery from inside the house in under the back seat, to start the motor for the drive down Summit Avenue to the hospital. Amazing, Dante's invention: there's no hell in the Bible, and in the Latin classics, only a place of a couple visits, by boat steered by Charon. Not a lifetime residence, like Mars. At the time in Minnesota, I was to be in hell because of a professor's not bothering to read my papers, nor those of the student whom he promoted to a prestigious job, though incapable of fine analytic writing. This was not Dante's hell, but my own. Hell is a pretend professor, a famous one, who doesn't read student papers. It's not muck or fire or a treacherous stone path, as in Dante. Hell is power bowing to flattery as Kent in Lear points out, and as I experienced by the poor writer's having flattered the vain, pretend professor. Like Dante, I place my enemies in the Inferno. May they remain nameless, unworthy Dante's immortalizing of his. But Heaven, Paradiso, is reading Dante with my Chaucer teacher John McNally, he of the rich, fruity voice and the Chaucer records in the 60s. A former Chicago cop, John McNally was a wonderful Chaucer teacher, who read Dante's Italian with the best. And by the way, the best English translation of the Inferno is Michael Palma's (Norton). He has not done all three parts, so he's not as well known. (I met him and his wife at the American Academy, Rome.) flag 16 likes · Like  · see review Jan 03, 2017 Sentimental Surrealist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: dante-alighieri, collection, classics, literature, medieval, why-havent-i-read-this-yet, religion, own-but-havent-read, doorstopper, poetry When I was but a young Sentimental Surrealist, I went through a big King Arthur phase, and so my mom took me to the Renaissance Faire. Here I saw a version of the Divine Comedy where a dude dressed as an imp treats our boy Dante to all matters of torments. Among other things, he gives him a wet willy, makes him run into the audience and scream "I am strong, sensitive, and I want to be loved!", dumps a bucket of ice on his head, and, for our climax, trounces the good poet in a wrestling match. I' When I was but a young Sentimental Surrealist, I went through a big King Arthur phase, and so my mom took me to the Renaissance Faire. Here I saw a version of the Divine Comedy where a dude dressed as an imp treats our boy Dante to all matters of torments. Among other things, he gives him a wet willy, makes him run into the audience and scream "I am strong, sensitive, and I want to be loved!", dumps a bucket of ice on his head, and, for our climax, trounces the good poet in a wrestling match. I'm not saying the original is as good as that, but the crazy imagery and the beautiful language make it at least in the same ballpark. Long live the guy who holds onto his own head. flag 17 likes · Like  · see review « previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 … next »

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.