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Then there are all the striking phrases, plays of ideas and gorgeous imagery that comes through despite translations. This might be Christian Allegory, but unlike say John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress it's far from dry or tedious and is full of real life contemporaries of Dante and historical figures. There are also Dante's guides here. His Virgil is wonderful--and the perfect choice. The great Latin poet of the Aeneid leading the great Italian poet who made his Tuscan dialect the standard with his poetry.

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Well, guide through Hell and Purgatory until he changes places with Beatrice. Which reminds me of that old joke--Heaven for the climate--Hell for the company. And certainly Hell is what stays most vividly in my mind. I remember still loving the Purgatorio--it's the most human and relatable somehow of the poems and Paradise has its beauties. But I remember the people of Hell best. There's Virgil of course, who must remain in limbo for eternity because he wasn't a Christian. There's Francesca di Rimini and her lover, for their adultery forever condemned to be flung about in an eternal wind so that even Dante pities them.

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And that, of course, is the flip side of this. Dante's poem embodies the orthodox Roman Catholic Christianity of the s and might give even Christians today pause. Even though I don't count myself a Christian, I get the appeal of hell. In fact, I can remember exactly when I understood it.

Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy: Volume I, Hell)

When once upon a time I felt betrayed, and knew there was no recourse. The person involved would never get their comeuppance upon this Earth. How nice I thought, if there really was a God and a Hell to redress the balance. The virtue of any Hell therefore is justice. These are the words Dante tells us are at hell's entrance.

It's hard to see Dante's vision matching the orthodox doctrine as just however, even when I might agree a particular transgression deserves punishment. Never mind the virtuous and good in limbo because they weren't Christians or unbaptized or in hell because they committed suicide or were homosexual. And poor Cassio and Brutus, condemned to the lowest circle because they conspired to kill a tyrant who was destroying their republic.

My biggest problem with hell is that it is eternal. Take all the worst tyrants who murdered millions, make them suffer not only the length of the lifetimes of their victims but all the years they might have had, I doubt if you add it up it comes to the age of the Earth--never mind eternity. Justice taken to extremes is not justice--it's vindictiveness and sadism. Something impossible for me to equate with "the primal love. One by Allen Mandelbaum primarily because it was a dual language book with the Italian on one page facing the English translation and a hardcover version translated by Charles Eliot Norton.

Finally, before writing up my review and inspired by Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club, I got reacquainted by finding Longfellow's translation online. Of all of them, I greatly prefer Mandelbaum's translation. The others try to keep the rhyming and rhythm of the original and this means a sometimes tortured syntax and use of archaic words and the result is forced and often obscure, making the work much harder to read than it should be. This is the sort of work that seems beyond review. It is a classic of the highest order, one which I have only just scratched the surface.

From even the barest reading, it is obvious that this work would reward close study and careful consideration. As someone who is not a specialist in poetry, particularly of this era, Christian theology, or the historical context, I can only record my impressions as someone reading this for its literary value. It is translated by Allen Mandelbaum.

I found the translation pleasurable to read, and it shows through some of Dante's poetry. Having heard readings of it in its original language, I can hardly imagine any translation really capturing its poetic brilliance, but such is the challenge facing all translations of poetry. While I cannot compare it with other translations, I did find this one an enjoyable experience to read. This edition also contains extensive end notes throughout.


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Unless one is steeped in the theology and history, this work would be impenetrable without these notes. Dante is constantly alluding to individuals of historical note often only within his context , the political rivalry between the Black and White Guelphs plays an important role and the work is rife with symbolism beyond the obvious punishments detailed in the Inferno! Further, and most importantly, Dante is engaged with the philosophical and theological debates of the day, and he tries to defend certain positions in this work.

I would have been lost without the notes here. Reading an edition without extensive notes not only makes the text more difficult to understand for a modern reader, but deprives one of one of the most rewarding experiences in reading it. The Inferno is the most famous of the three books, and it is no small wonder why. Dante's depiction of the levels of hell is riveting and powerful. The imagery throughout is engrossing. It is interesting, however, that Dante recognizes that his abilities to describe, in imagistic terms, what he observes diminish as he rises through Pugatory and Heaven.

He consistently invokes higher and higher deities to help him match these sights poetically. Yet, taken in the imagery of the poem, none of the works is more immediately powerful than the Inferno. One of the most interesting aspects of the poem is how Dante rises to meet this challenge. While in the Inferno, Dante is able to describe all manner of punishment and pain, his descriptions of heaven often turn on the blinding nature of its beauty.

Its beauty is such that his eyes fail, and the correspondingly imaginative nature of his poetry falls short. He compensates by revealing the beauty of his heaven in other ways. Most notably is that he does so by showing how the divine nature of heaven can meet all of his questions and intellectual challenges. The joy and beauty of heaven is revealed in its ability to provide rational coherence. While I may be over-intellectualizing Dante here I am no scholar of this material , it was the intellectual nature of his work that really struck me.

One final portion of the work that I found particularly moving is that Dante is a human being observing what he does, and this comes through in his emotions and questions most of all. Though he recognizes that the punishments of hell must be just because they are divine justice , he pities those who suffer them.

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I wrestled with the same questions, and the reader cannot help but feel sympathy for these souls as Dante describes their punishments. Dante is our guide through these questions, and even if I as a reader am less than satisfied with the answers Dante comes with, he struggles with them. It is not merely a description and celebration of the divine, but rather a real struggle to understand it, and reconcile it to our own conception of justice and the world. This makes the work an interactive intellectual exercise, one works on the same problems that Dante does.

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One of the absolute summits of western arguably, world literature. The general outline is well-enough known: Dante has a vision on Easter weekend, in which he visits Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The vision frame is external to the poem itself; the Dante inside the poem is the dreamer from the very beginning. He is guided through the first two realms well, all of Hell and most of Purgatory by Virgil, and through the rest of Purgatory and all of Heaven by Beatrice, the focus of his early work La Vita Nuova.

He begins in a dark wood, "selva oscura" and ends with the beatific vision of the union of the Christian Trinity and the Aristotelian unmoved mover: "l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle". Written in the first person, the poem tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of Beatrice was a Florentine woman he had met in childhood and admired from afar in the mode of the then-fashionable courtly love tradition, which is highlighted in Dante's earlier work La Vita Nuova.

The structure of the three realms follows a common numerical pattern of 9 plus 1, for a total of 9 circles of the Inferno, followed by Lucifer contained at its bottom; 9 rings of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden crowning its summit; and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradiso, followed by the Empyrean containing the very essence of God. Within each group of 9, 7 elements correspond to a specific moral scheme, subdivided into three subcategories, while 2 others of greater particularity are added to total nine.

L'inferno (1911) FULL MOVIE w/LIVE SCORE (2016)

For example, the seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church that are cleansed in Purgatory are joined by special realms for the late repentant and the excommunicated by the church. The core seven sins within Purgatory correspond to a moral scheme of love perverted, subdivided into three groups corresponding to excessive love Lust , Gluttony , Greed , deficient love Sloth , and malicious love Wrath , Envy , Pride. This exile, which lasted the rest of Dante's life, shows its influence in many parts of the Comedy, from prophecies of Dante's exile to Dante's views of politics, to the eternal damnation of some of his opponents.

The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in the year , "halfway along our life's path" Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "low place" basso loco where the sun is silent ' l sol tace , Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso , a symbolic instance of poetic justice ; for example, in Canto XX, fortune-tellers and soothsayers must walk with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because that was what they had tried to do in life:.

Inferno (The Divine Comedy #1) by Dante Alighieri

Allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious. Added to these are two unlike categories that are specifically spiritual: Limbo, in Circle 1, contains the virtuous pagans who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ, and Circle 6 contains the heretics who contradicted the doctrine and confused the spirit of Christ.

Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world.

The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere , created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell [23] which Dante portrays as existing underneath Jerusalem [24]. The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins or "seven roots of sinfulness. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources.

Love, a theme throughout the Divine Comedy , is particularly important for the framing of sin on the Mountain of Purgatory. While the love that flows from God is pure, it can become sinful as it flows through humanity. Humans can sin by using love towards improper or malicious ends Wrath , Envy , Pride , or using it to proper ends but with love that is either not strong enough Sloth or love that is too strong Lust , Gluttony , Greed. Below the seven purges of the soul is the Ante-Purgatory, containing the Excommunicated from the church and the Late repentant who died, often violently, before receiving rites.


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Thus the total comes to nine, with the addition of the Garden of Eden at the summit, equaling ten. Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the Christian life. Christian souls arrive escorted by an angel, singing In exitu Israel de Aegypto. In his Letter to Cangrande , Dante explains that this reference to Israel leaving Egypt refers both to the redemption of Christ and to "the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace.

The Purgatorio is notable for demonstrating the medieval knowledge of a spherical Earth.