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The Divine Comedy: Inferno v. 1 (Penguin Classics)
on 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.