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Customer Review

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the great works of literature, in lucid translation., 25 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Divine Comedy 1: Inferno: Inferno. Parallel Text Vol 1 (Paperback)
The first of Dante's trilogy, The Divine Comedy, is an imaginative tour de force. Dante's literary hero, Virgil, is his guide through Hell and it's denizens; showing him the inhabitants of each of the nine circles and examples of the divine justice meted out to them.
The choice of Virgil as his guide enables Dante to realise an epic that encompasses multifold aims: there is tension between medieval and classical standards of literature, detailed theology, satire on the Florence of the time and, of course, the partly autobiographical nature of Dante's own spiritual journey. The Inferno, however, is never merely allegorical and the classical standards (of Virgil's own Aeneid can be seen as exemplary) are juxtaposed with an often squalid realism. In this, Dante's creation stands as one of the great works of literature.
This edition, which features parallel Italian text, includes some excellent commentaries after each Canto which outline some of the strands Dante has weaved into his epic, and also brief footnotes as guides to classical and Florentine references. Neither of these are extensive, and so this edition is perhaps not the academic choice, but for the beginner they are an excellent balance between understanding and brevity. The translation is clear, though at times the punctuation could be tightened, and the prose translation is perhaps the best choice for the epic form.
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