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The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 29 Nov 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (29 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141197498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141197494
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism . . . Likely to be the best modern version of Dante (Bernard O'Donoghue)

Kirkpatrick brings a more nuanced sense of the Italian and a more mediated appreciation of the poem's construction than nearly all of his competitors (The Times)

We gain much from Kirkpatrick's fidelity to syntax and nuance... His introduction...tells you, very readable indeed, pretty much all you need for a heightened appreciation of the work (Guardian)

About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. His life was divided by political duties and poetry, the most of famous of which was inspired by his meeting with Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice,including La Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy. He died in Ravenna in 1321.

Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin, and Cambridge where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have made one previous attempt to read the Divine Comedy in English, using Longfellow's translation of 1867. This foundered somewhere in the middle of Purgatorio (i.e. the second of the three sections), largely as a result of trying to read it in too-large chunks with too-long gaps in between (and consequently losing the plot).

My current read-through, using this Penguin Classics edition translated by Robin Kirkpatrick (c. 2007), has been more successful and I am now nearing the end of Paradiso (the final section). This is partly due to my newer strategy of reading (aloud) one canto every day, but this wouldn't work if the translation didn't flow well. Fortunately it does.

Kirkpatrick's translation is in iambic pentameter blank verse, which works much more naturally in English than trying to force the original Italian poem's terza rima to work in translation. He uses a variety of registers, from exalted to earthy (which probably mirrors the original text, although my grasp of Italian isn't good enough to know for sure - if it was I probably wouldn't bother with a translation anyway). There are fairly frequent quotations in Latin, which are left untranslated in the text with a translation given in the end-notes.

The notes are extensive and give a lot of useful background information about the many classical allusions and references to Dante's contemporaries and the politics and culture in which he was writing, as well as a few nice maps and diagrams. There is also a very comprehensive looking introduction which I haven't read yet (I decided to plunge straight into the text and then go back to the introduction when I've finished).
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This book was recommended by a friend who is in academia and had been asked to suggest a good, clear, modern translation of Dante. The colloquial language used at times was a surprise, but made it much easier to understand Dante's meaning and intent than a previous translation I had which was full of 'thee' and 'thou'. Now that I have read it, I find myself recognising echoes of Dante's ideas and words everywhere. His descriptions of Heaven and Hell in particular are heavy-going in parts and bizarre and challenging to our different modern-day perceptions, but the notes helped me get into the culture and mindset of the medieval audience Dante was writing for. The humanity of it shone though, especially in the Purgatory section - I really enjoyed the clever drawing of individual characters, some of whom appear only fleetingly - and I found myself hoping that Virgil might have found a better reward for his guidance than simply being dismissed back into Hell. Not an easy read, even with this very good translation, but well worth it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The transkation is good but the Kindle layout is awful. So overall very diappointed abd shoukd have bought the paperback
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Format: Paperback
Over the years I have become increasingly aware that I need to do something about my ignorance of this text. So I chose a modern translation from Penguin because that was going to be good, yes? Er, well, I'm not sure. I can't say whether Robin Kirkpatrick's translation is 'faithful' to the medieval Italian. But I DO know that the writing is insufferably ugly. Maybe it expresses the Inferno appropriately. Maybe guttural non-rhyming English can never capture the comforting assonances of Italian. But here are some samples: 'But if you'd care to schlepp still further on, / Then do so round this arching cliff ...' Or 'Their looks did not look good ...' Or 'They won't dare pull a stunt' (all Inferno, Canto 21). These, and dozens of similar passages on every page, sound clunky to my ear. Maybe Dante really is coarse and vulgar. I simply cannot endure it, and will try to get a different version.
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Kirkpatrick's translation is pellucid. Not quite the fluidity of Musa's, but has a sharpness and authority that rivals the very best. Highly recommended! Every Lent I read a new translation. Three a Cantos a day and The Comedy is easily completed!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A pristine copy of the text which is an excellent volume, because it includes all three parts of The Divine Comedy, rather than specific sections as so frequently available. It also arrived remarkably quick despite it being free super saver delivery of abut five days. It actually arrived within two days!
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The e-book of the complete "Divine Comedy" is excellent for students and the beginner. The introduction describes for the reader, the lives, places and politics of the time and is a delight to read..
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A long piece of classic literature. I find it's best to read in short sittings to digest and also read through the associated indexed explanations/interpretations for each canto.
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