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The Divine Comedy (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2008
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`The pleasingly plain, readable English well reflects Dante's original eloquence.'The Times
What is amazing about Dante's language is the fluency, the plainness, the simplicity - the sheer approachability - of his words. The sheer formal mastery of the man is quite amazing. (Michael Glover, New Statesman & Society)
Described variously as the greatest poem of the European Middle Ages and, because of the author's evangelical purpose, the 'fifth Gospel', the Divine Comedy is central to the culture of the west. The poem is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a journey - the poet travels from the dark circles of the Inferno, up the mountain of Purgatory, where Virgil, his guide leaves him to encounter Beatrice in the Earthly Paradise. Dante conceived the poem as the new epic of Christendom, and he creates a world in which reason and faith have transformed moral and social chaos into order. Charles Sisson's blank verse translation is remarkable for its lucidity and vigour, and the Introduction, diagrams, maps, and notes by David Higgins provide the reader with invaluable guidance.See all Product description
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Even though the Comedy (naturally) contains scholastic elements, the poem's originality, coupled with its existential dimension, make sure the Divine Comedy still resonates.
On the Kindle, I was not totally keen on the layout - even with adjustments there was not much to a page, which interrupted the flow a bit, but I quickly got used to it and was able to make it work.
Whether people choose to read this work on the Kindle or as a real printed book, I totally recommend it to all.
With both the illustrations and the poem itself there is something very mystical, ethereal, surreal, dreamlike and yet realistic about the way it reads (which is a great credit to C. H. Sisson's translation & David Higgins notes, diagrams and maps in this edition). It's as if you as the reader has discovered or been given Dante's personal diary after his passing, which has been left, written from the spiritual world for you to find and be read as a guide and preparation for the afterlife in itself. The first line speaks to you immediately, with no introduction of who, where, how or why; just Dante's personal expression of waking up and finding himself lost in an unknown world, yet accepting of his own death.
I have currently only finished reading Dante's Inferno, which was at times an intense read in itself and a lot to take in and understand at times when concerning the political subtext especially, but in this edition there is plenty of historical context, appendix and notes that help you to understand and appreciate the text more so. I also found it effective to read the poem alongside Gustave Dore's superlative illustrations for the poem, which seem to capture the atmosphere perfectly from the prose.
I would highly recommend this Oxford World Classics edition to any newcomer; as Sisson's translation and Higgins notes help you to greatly understand and appreciate this epic poem for what it is; a metaphysical study, political / social commentary of it's time and literary, artistic masterpiece.
It's a beautifully presented book, which has prize of place on my bookshelf.
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