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on 25 January 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2009
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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on 29 January 2016
Lovely pocket-sized version with the English translation on opposite pages to the Italian
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on 6 January 2016
The book was not quite what I was expecting.found it hard reading..,it is a book more serious readers..
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on 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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