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Dante's Divine Comedy (Volume 1) Paperback – 1 Jan 2012
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About the Author
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence to a family of minor nobility. He entered into Florentine politics in 1295, but he and his party were forced into exile in a hostile political climate in 1301. Taking asylum in Ravenna late in life, Dante completed his Divine Commedia, considered one of the most important works of Western literature, before his death in 1321. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
This edition of Dante Alighieri's masterpiece 'The Divine Comedy' is an extremely well made book that tells the story of Dante's pilgrimage through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Trying to find the meaning behind the work is no small feet; you can try and interpret the meaning of letter or what the letter signifies.
This book is famous in modern culture for defining nine levels of hell and using the seven deadly sins.
In the begining Dante is guided by the famous poet Virgil (author of the Aeneid) who escorts Dante through Hell and Purgatory. As Dante a reaches the top of Purgatory, he joined by Beatrice his unrequited love in life (mentioned heavily in Dante's book `La Vita Nuova") who takes him through the celestial realm of paradise.
The book contains additional images from the famous illustrator Gustave Doré who gives justice to Dante's work with imagery based around Dante's journey. Many of these images display the full horror (and violence) of what Dante sees, such as Bertram De Born who displays his own severed head to Dante and Virgil. Gustave also matches the pace of how the journey unfolds, as the characters journey through Purgatory and Paradise the imagery becomes more and more heavenly and gives a real instance of what such blissful places could be like.
This story uses many persons from real life as well more legendary characters such as Tristan, Isolde, Achilles, Ulysses, Nimrod, Antaeus, Brutus etc. The background stories of many of these characters is hardly common knowledge (especially Dante's own personal acquaintances) and I often found myself using the internet in order to find out who these people were, in order to understand why Dante chose to place them in this level of Hell, Purgatory or Paradise. This story gives good examples of the best and worst examples of humanity and conveys the notion of action and consequence and there effects on the human soul
This book is top notch and uses a good translation. This translation isn't easy but I have read harder editions so I would recommend this to anyone who are seriously interested in reading Dante! A good collectors item as well!
Those eerie words open the first cantica of Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy," the legendary poem that takes its author through the eerie depths of hell, heaven and purgatory. It's a haunting, almost hallucinatory experience, full of the the metaphorical and supernatural horrors of the inferno, and joys of paradise.
The date is Good Friday of the year 1300, and Dante is lost in a creepy dark forest, being assaulted by a trio of beasts who symbolize his own sins. But suddenly he is rescued ("Not man; man I once was") by the legendary poet Virgil, who takes the despondent Dante under his wing -- and down into Hell.
But this isn't a straightforward hell of flames and dancing devils. Instead, it's a multi-tiered carnival of horrors, where different sins are punished with different means. Opportunists are forever stung by insects, the lustful are trapped in a storm, the greedy are forced to battle against each other, and the violent lie in a river of boiling blood, are transformed into thorn bushes, and are trapped on a volcanic desert.
Well, that was fun. But after passing through hell, Dante gets the guided tour of Purgatory, where the souls of the not-that-bad-but-not-pure-either get cleansed. He and Virgil emerge at the base of a vast mountain, and an angel orders him to "wash you those wounds within," then lets them in.
As Virgil and Dante climb the mountain, they observe the seven terraces that sinners stay on, representing the seven deadly sins -- the angry, the proud, the envious, the lazy, the greedy, the lustful and the gluttons. It's a one-way trip, and you don't even get to look back.
The road up the mountain leads to the gates of Heaven, and soon Dante has been purified to the point where he's allowed to go inside. Virgil doesn't get to enter Heaven, so he passes Dante on to the beautiful Beatrice, the woman he loved in his younger years.
She whisks him up to the spheres of those who are now pure of soul -- the wise, the loving, the people who fought for their religion, the just, the contemplative, the saints, and finally even the angels. And after passing through heaven's nine spheres, he passes out of the physical realm and human understanding -- and sees God, the incomprehensible, represented by three circles inside each other, but all the same size.
Needless to say, it's a pretty wild trip.And admittedly "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso" aren't quite on the writing level of "Inferno," which has the most visceral, skin-crawling imagery and lines ("Fixed in the slime, groan they, 'We were sullen and wroth...'"), and a wicked sense of irony. It makes the angels and saints seem a bit tame.
But there's plenty of power in the second two books, particularly when Dante tries to comprehend God, and almost blows out his brain in the process -- "my desire and my will were turned like a wheel, all at one speed by the Love that turns the sun and all the other stars." It's haunting, and sticks with you long after the story has ended.
More impressive still is his ability to weave the poetry out of symbolism and allegory, without it ever seeming preachy or annoying. Even at the start, Dante sees lion, a leopard and a wolf, which symbolize different sins, and a dark forest that indicates suicidal thoughts. Not to mention Purgatory as a mountain that must be climbed, or Hell as a Hadesian underworld.
Dante's vivid writing and wildly imaginative journey makes the "Divine Comedy" a timeless, spellbinding read, and hauntingly powerful from inferno to paradiso.
The instant I fell in love with this book is the moment I realized that Dante's description of hell is still deeply disturbing. There are very few books that were written in the 14th century that still retain such power over the reader. I feel that The Divine Comedy is a much better book than John Milton's Paradise Lost, to which there are obvious comparisons, not to say the latter isn't also a classic.
The book itself is extremely well made, if a little to big. But what really makes this edition worth extra cost are the truly magnificent illustrations from Gustav Dore, of which there are many. To round up, this book is a true masterpiece that should be read by all, although some may not appreciate it. The illustrations alone are worth the extra money but the book over all quality make this a deal not to be refused.