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The Inferno of Dante Alighieri [Paperback]

Dante Alighieri , Ciaran Carson
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Nov 2004
"Inferno", the first volume of Dante Alighieri's "La Divina Comemedia", is an imaginitive tour de force. Dante's hero, Virgil, guides him through hell, showing him the inhabitants of each of its nine circles and examples of the divine justice meted out to them. Ciaran Carson's translation of the text is suffused with wit, anger and irreverent vigour and attempts not to diminish the pathos of the original.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (16 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862076030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862076037
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Paul Muldoon, Irish Times Books of the Year 'Quite simply the best version of Dante there is' Ali Smith, Scotsman Books of the Year 'Carson's version...is the first I've ever read in which the English (because Irish really) ever seemed so kickingly alive'

About the Author

Ciaran Carson was born in 1948 in Belfast where he still lives. He has been awarded the Irish Times Literature Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Yorkshire Post Prize and the Forward Prize for Poetry in 2003.

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating but flawed translation 25 Jan 2006
Translating Dante into a modern idiom is obviously a desperately difficult task, especially if the translator aims to maintain some degree of loyalty to the distinctive but constrained metre and stanza forms of the original. And for a 21st century reader the flow of the verse is complicated by the often intensely referential content of the 'Inferno', involving many of Dante's Florentine contemporaries whose lives and stories are entirely obscure to us.
For me Ciaran Carson's commendable ambition has produced clunkingly uneven results. In places his language and expression are vivid and highly effective - generating 'powerful and arresting images' as one of the blurb reviews suggests, and transcending the classical stodge of earlier versions. But whereas other reviewers have seen much to praise in Carson's frequent and very conscious alternation between high-flown formal expression and Belfast-street colloquialism, I just found it disconcertingly incongruous and jarring. Particularly where casual and slangy terms are (as it seems) hauled in to achieve a pat rhyme, the effect is at times almost farcically smart-Alicky and at others perfectly bathetic.
So while this is a bold and interesting venture - and well worth the attention of Dante devotees, to see how they react - for me personally it ultimately falls a good way short of its aspirations.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected 9 Oct 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I'm not a great fan of 'modernisations' of classics (Ted Hughes' Ovid et al.) but this was far better than I'd expected. I'd assumed that Carson would translate not just the poem, but also political references into the Belfast setting but actually he doesn't do this and, in fact, the poem remains set in C14th Florence.

And that's where the greatest flaw lies: the juxtaposition between C14th Florentine politics and mores explained in a sometimes idiomatic Belfast 'accent' doesn't quite work. That said this is a vibrant, flowing read that makes Dante more human than perhaps some of the more accurate translations.

Personally I think I'll always prefer the more stately prose of Sinclair (The Divine Comedy: I. Inferno: Inferno. Parallel Text Vol 1 (Galaxy Books)) but this is an excellent alternative perhaps for introducing Dante to new students.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Inferno of Dante Alighieri 27 May 2011
DANTE'S INFERNO - Dante Alighieri
This book is about Dante's fictional description of life, death and the process of ascendancy to Heaven or hell according to Catholic faith. The main characters were Beatrice, Virgil and Dante. The structure of the story corresponds with Dante's three journeys to find God.
The story titled `Comedy' described hell, purgatory and paradise like a horror film. It contains nine parts, each dealing with different aspects of the entire story. Conversations of these characters were recorded. These characters recognized newly dead elements and held conversations with them about their affinities with earthly relations.
Some of the conversations resembled that of the biblical rich man in hell demanding water from Lazarus to quench his thirst.
This translation by Carson is probably sub-standard for what obtained around the 14th century.

The Inferno of Dante Alighieri
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