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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2011
Having wanted to read this book for a while but being put off by the seemingly endless number of translations available, after not much research I finally plumped for this version by almost picking it at random.

Generally, I didn't have any problems with the translations and it all seemed to flow quite nicely. Admittedly, I haven't read any other versions so have nothing to compare it to, but suffice to say I didn't struggle with this book one bit.

Onto the actual story that Dante tells, I actually really enjoyed it. Despite being hundreds of years old, the story seems very timeless. Although it does seem like a medieval way of name dropping; with a constant barrage of people who were then famous (or infamous, I suppose) but without the notes, I'd have had no idea who they were or their significance.

There's so many layers to each Canto that you don't even realise are there until you read the notes. It's quite brilliant, in a way, and another reason why I enjoyed this version of the book.

The "comedy" part of it is, as you would imagine, rather dark at times. For example, two blokes are stuck in a frozen lake in Hell with only their heads above the ice, with one guy eating the other guys brains. Turns out that the person eating the head was forced to eat his own children/grandchildren after the other guy locked them in a room and starved them to death. Hilarious stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Although I did laugh out loud at one or two phrases, like the devils that were blowing raspberries at each other, with the other devil "saluting them with his bugle of an a--hole"!

It's an easy to read book, considering how old it is, and it is really worth what little effort it takes to get through. A great book and a very nice translation.
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on 27 January 2000
This translation of Dante's "The Divine Comedy" is good in many respects. It provides a long introduction detailing various differences between this (Mark Musa's) edition and many others and the reasons behind these. He also provides many of the stories around Dante's many subtle verses to help the casual reader and student like enjoy the work for its true meaning. His translations of Purgatory and Paradise are also very good.
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on 14 May 2003
This book was fantastic.
Musa's style has made Dante's work accessible to everyone, the blank verse translation is exceptionally easy to read and the accompanying notes means that even non-literature scholars, like me, don't miss a trick. I would like to congratulate him, personally, for a top job. I don't think I would have enjoyed it half as much by a different translator.
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on 23 March 2001
After seeing an exhibition of Botticelli's drawings for the Divine Comedy, I thought it would be a good idea to find out what these wonderful drawings were based on. Well the book is just as wonderful. I particularly like the fact that the notes appear after each canto, and they always seem to answer any questions I have about the text. Highly recommended, especially for Dante beginners.
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on 19 November 2012
Inferno is the first 34 cantos (verses) of The Divine Comedy written around the beginning of the 14th century.It contains a considerable amount of reference to the political personages of northern Italy and to Greek and Roman mythology,which makes the quality of the translation,and particularly the reference notes,the decisive factor in selecting which version to read.
Each canto(which concerns the punishments going on in a certain segment or bolgia)is around four pages long (roughly 130-150 lines) and the corresponding explanatory notes run typically 3 to 4 pages.I found the notes to be most informative and necessary,as without them I wouldn't have had clue what was going on for the greater part of the book.
Medieval poetry (particularly in a foreign tongue) is never going to be a walk in the park and I must admit my motivation for reading this stemmed from the curiosity of Dante's structure of hell and the punishments that he appropriated the various sins.Aside from these sometimes colourful eschatological ruminations I found the language less than inspiring from a descriptive point of view, and the constant reference to Tuscan politics gave it the feel that the whole thing was structured as a way to support Dante's political views and personal vendettas.On the plus side it was easier to read than I'd anticipated and the notes where excellent.
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on 8 August 2008
Here Musa does the impossible. He writes translated poetry that is perfectly readable, understandable, and as invigorating as Dante's original. It is by a long way the best translation available in terms of it sheer readability.

Prefacing each Canto with an introductory paragraph, and ending each with copious contextual notes makes this both a good study edition and one in which no shade of meaning is ever lost. However, he also does what many scholars don't: he makes the poetry itself sing and pulsate with life. Musa shows us why this is one of the most important and timeless works of world literature. Dante (like Shakespeare and Cervantes) was writing ripping yarns. Just because they are old and the language may be strange to us now, there is no reason why they should not thrill us as much now as they did when they were written.

If, like me, the original Italian is beyond you, this book is as close as you will get to perfection.
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on 18 April 2007
I only wanted to read Part One: Inferno as I had seen to discussed on a recent crime programme. I went on to do a little research and then came across this easy translation.

It was fabulous to read. He has created an accessible text that also has detailed notes after every canto; plus a wonderful introduction. As each canto starts there is a short paragraph explaining what is happening which can help you.

I enjoyed reading this and wish I hadn't left it so long. You don't need to be smart or a scholar to enjoy this masterpiece!
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on 5 September 2010
was a fantastic read which went to great lengths to ensure that the reader understood how the poem developed, a fantastic translation which offered different interpretations of the poem in the running commentary and whenever I began to feel the divine comedy was leaving me behind the following commentary brought me straight back up to speed. A brilliant translation and would fully recommend it
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on 18 June 2011
I have read all volumes of Dantes' Divine Comedy tranlsated by Mark Musa, along with some other translations. I must say that he is the best at guiding the reader through the text while explaining the nuances and expanding on the text itself. This is a book(s) you can not put down ... and I seriously recommend Mark Musas' version of it !!
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on 8 May 2009
This was one of those books that I always thought I'd like to read but never thought I would because I had the feeling it would be too difficult or heavy going. Well, I was wrong. It was surprisingly easy to read which probably says something about the translation. The notes on each Canto were very good too.
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