- Mass Market Paperback: 357 pages
- Publisher: Signet Classics; Reprint edition (7 Nov. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451531426
- ISBN-13: 978-0451531421
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.7 x 17.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,602,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Purgatorio (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 7 Nov 2009
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About the Author
John Ciardi was a distinguished poet and professor, having taught at Harvard and Rutgers universities, and a poetry editor of The Saturday Review. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1955 he won the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award, and in 1956, the Prix de Rome. He died in 1986.
Top Customer Reviews
Heaven is perfect. It is a place of everlalsting & unconditional love.
So, what is Purgatory like?
Even though it is impossible for any human to know exactly what Purgatory is like, it is very interesting to examine Dante's depiction of it. After being guided by an instructor through The Inferno, The Purgatorio was a unique experience that I journeyed through alone. However, this intensified the experience. Dante's image of Purgatory is just as incredible as his image of Hell. The second part of the Divine Comedy reveals to the reader how great a desire there is for the souls in Purgatory to see God. It is a dying thirst and pain, yet they must wait patiently, hoping for the souls on earth who are living in grace to pray for them.
The Inferno renewed my Spiritual life! The Purgatorio strengthened it! I am now anxious to see how The Paradisio will affect me.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Having finished his tour of hell and its residents, Dante Alighieri turns his attention to a more cheerful (if less juicy) supernatural realm. "Purgatorio" is less famous than its predecessor, but it's still a beautiful piece of work that explores the mindset not of the damned, but of sinners who are undergoing a divine cleansing -- beautiful, hopeful and a little sad.
Outside of Hell, Dante and Virgil encounter a small boat piloted by an angel and filled with human souls -- and unlike the damned, they're eager to find "the mountain." And as Hell had circles of damnation, Purgatory has terraces that the redeemable souls climb on their way towards Heaven, and none of the people there will leave their terrace until they are cleansed.
And the sins that are cleansed here are the seven deadly ones: the proud, the envious, the wrathful, the greedy, the lazy, the gluttonous, and the lustful. But as Dante moves slowly through the terraces, he finds himself gaining a new tour guide as he approaches Heaven...
I'll say this openly: the second part of the "Divine Comedy" is simply not as deliciously entertaining as "Inferno" -- it was kind of fun to see Dante skewering the corrupt people of his time, and describing the sort of grotesque punishments they merited. But while not as fun, "Purgatorio" is a more transcendent, hopeful kind of story since all the souls there will eventually be cleansed and make their way to Heaven.
As a result, "Purgatorio" is filled with a kind of eager anticipation -- there's flowers, stars, dancing, angelic ferrymen, mythic Grecian rivers and an army of souls who are all-too-eager to get to Purgatory so their purification can start. Alighieri's timeless poetry has a silken quality, from beginning to end ("Yours am I, sacred Muses! To you I pray/Here let dead poetry rise once more to life/and here let sweet Calliope rise and play") and it's crammed with classical references and Christian symbolism (the Sun's part in advancing the soiled souls).
And the trip through Purgatory seems to have a strong effect on Dante's self-insert, who appears less repulsed and more fascinated by what he sees there. It's hard not to feel sorry for him when the paternal Virgil exits the Comedy, but at least he has someone else appears to guide him.
The middle part of the Divine Comedy isn't as juicy as "Inferno," but the beauty of Dante Alighieri's writing makes up for it."Purgatorio" is a must read... and then on to Paradise.
The Purgatorio details the journey of Virgil and Dante as they go up Purgatory. If there is one thing that I like about Dante, it is in the way he thinks, which appears very logical. In Purgatory, one sees that one starts at the very bottom, which shows humility. This of course, makes perfect sense, since these souls are approaching God. I particularly liked Dante's reasoning behind "The Proud". In life, they walked around with their noses held high, thinking highly of themselves. In Purgatory, they crawl under the crushing weight of huge boulders, making them humble and bringing them "back down to earth."
Each Canto starts with a very helpful synopsis of what follows. After that is the Canto and after that are the footnotes. It is extremely beneficial to know some mythology and Italian history beforehand, but the footnotes at the end will fill in the many gaps for you, that is, if you have the patience to read them. If you're still confused about what all has gone on, the section at the very end entitled "How to Read Dante" is very helpful, a nice way to finish the book.
This book, like its predecessor, can be very challenging and tedious. But, as Virgil and Dante find, though the road is rough so are the riches that much greater when they finally come to journey's end.
There is no way around it, something is always lost in the
leap from one language to another. You can consult a modern
'adaptation' of Shakespeare to get the feel of what has to
John Ciardi decided to keep the original rhyme scheme: 'aba'
in which the poem is divided into groups of three lines of
which the first and third rhyme. In Italian, this is fairly
easy, in English a great deal more difficult.
So in order to keep the feel of the tercets (as they're called)
Ciardi sometimes had to stray a bit from the literal
meaning. Nothing vital is lost, but the specialist will
surely find some points to dispute.
For the rest of us, this is a first-rate view into a world
we can barely otherwise imagine. Ciardi's notes and glosses
on the cantos are breezy, illuminating and approachable.
There are other, more correct translations- Mandelbaum's
is first among them -that might be better for the specialist
or the student of the Italian Language. I notice, however,
that when I want to spend a pleasant few moments in the
Poet's company that this is the translation I usually reach
--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and
the novel bang BANG. ISBN 9781601640005
I read the Modern Library hardcover from 1996 and it was wonderously fine to read. The small hardback format made it durable and portable. The notes were put after each Canto, instead of being strung together at the end-- very handy and I wish more books that require a lot of notes would follow its example. I don't read Italian, so I can't speak to the Ciardi translation's accuracy. I will say that it read very well. It was very clean, and flowed like poetry.
I should have read Purgatorio earlier. When I was in college and reading The Divine Comedy we were really only required to read Inferno, and I'm ashamed to say that I stopped there.
The thing that I most remember about Inferno are the vivid images of suffering-- the sense of doom. I liked Purgatorio better, I think. Even as a modern reader, I found myself measuring my own behaviour against the standards that Dante suggested in the poem. It was easier to identify with this book-- more thought-provoking about the nature of sin, humanity, and God. Dante breaks Purgatory into people who either love too much or not enough-- with the immoderate lovers closer to heaven. There is a lot to think about here. A lot to like besides the historical value or the poem's place in the canon.