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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Onwards and Upwards, 1 Oct. 2003
By 
Mr A C Trarieux (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Divine Comedy Volume II: Purgatory (Penguin Classics): Purgatory v. 2 (Paperback)
In the second installment of the Divine Commedy we follow Dante as he strugles up the mountain of purgatory on his way to the Earthly Paradise and his beloved Beatrice. Accompanied by the ever faithful Virgil he passes various sinners on the way to the top and we get to see the brutal punishments they undergo as they atone for their sins. I enjoyed this book as much as the Inferno - if anything the punishments are even harsher and, as ever, Mark Musa's inspired translation and helpful notes make it a pleasure to read. Bring on Paradise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stint in Purgatory, 1 May 2011
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Divine Comedy Volume II: Purgatory (Penguin Classics): Purgatory v. 2 (Paperback)
"And I shall sing about that second realm/where man's soul goes to purify itself/and become worthy to ascend to heaven..."

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 ("Here let death's poetry arise to life!/O Muses sacrosanct whose liege I am/and let Calliope rise up 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.
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The Divine Comedy Volume II: Purgatory (Penguin Classics): Purgatory v. 2
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