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The Divine Comedy (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – May 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0199535644 ISBN-10: 0199535647 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199535647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199535644
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

`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 and Society

Language Notes

Text: English, Italian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Perhaps the hard copy is of poor quality, but if purchased for the Kindle, expect great things.
Nikki
If you haven't read any of these, you can still read this poem, you just won't get as much out of it, BUT you will get a lot out of it, Dante made sure of that.
Melinda
I strongly recommend John Ciardi's poetic translation of "The Divine Comedy," a lot is missed when reading only "The Inferno."
Terry Bohannon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

182 of 188 people found the following review helpful By thistle on August 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I always felt it a crime that I made it through high school and college without reading this. I recently read The Dante Club which re-ignited my interest in finally reading The Divine Comedy. I looked at all the versions out there and decided on this one. I am so glad I did.

Intro:

There is an introduction on "How to read Dante" which was indispensible for my first time foray.

There is a note from the translator that explains how his translation might differ from others and why.

There is an introduction from a collegue of the translator that puts the Divine Comedy in a historical context.

Text:

So easy to read!

Each Canto begins with a synopsis. If all you wanted to know was the plot of the Divine Comedy you could just read all of these half page summaries (but you'd really miss out.)

Then the canto in beautiful verse.

Then copious notes that explain the minute details about whom you meet in the Canto and relevant events in history. The notes are as interesting as the Cantos themselves.

I am so glad I picked this copy up. I have now read and ENJOYED Dante's Divine Comedy. I highly recommend this as a starting point. It is extremely accessible.
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169 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on November 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those of us not fortunate enough to be able to read Italian and thus savor Dante's masterpiece in its original language have the next best thing--the comprehensively noted translation by another great poet, the late John Ciardi. This superb and handsome hardbound edition of Ciardi's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy is not simply the collected, earlier translations of The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso, which in past years appeared in separate paperback editions: This edition is the final Ciardi translation from earlier forms which were "a work in progress." In this magnificent final translation, the non-Italian-speaking reader can savor Dante's extrodinary fusion of morality with the metaphorical architecture of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, explored with pathos and sympathy for the human condition which, in the mind of Dante, constantly yearns for The All in All. A volume that should be required reading for anyone who aspires to understand man's place in the universe.
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213 of 234 people found the following review helpful By Terry Bohannon on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Ciardi's translation of "The Divine Comedy" in an anthology of continental literature I read in college. At that time, after experiencing fragments of Fagles' horrible "verse" translation of Homer's works, I had low expectations for the translations in that anthology.
However, the instant I started reading John Ciardi's verse translation of "The Inferno", my hardened heart once again began to beat with the vibrancy it had when I read poems of Wordsworth or Browning.
John Ciardi, with a poetic talent that seems to be unmatched -- except for what I?ve read of W.S. Merwin's "Paradiso XXXIII," -- creates a poetic flow that feels, tastes, and even smells Italian. A poetic flow that delightfully contrasts Fagles', whose poetic flow is limited by popular styles and even phrases of the 20th century.
Instead of trying to lift Dante to the 20th century, Ciardi gracefully carries us to the early 14th century.
Instead of assuming that Dante is arcane, old fashioned, and in need of John's own poetic help, he believes that the original Italian is fresh, exciting, and poetically graceful.
The translation of Dante would have been diluted if Ciardi were to try and bring the 14th century to us through the modernization of the language, symbolism, and even the geography of Dante's world. (Fagles even geographically modified his "Odyssey" at one point to rename a Greek river the Nile because readers may get 'confused'.)
I?m glad that Ciardi tries to bring us back in time when the universe was cosmically full of life, where even the stars were more than the mere byproducts of abstract forces, chance, that can only be systematically analyzed and dissected.
The medieval worldview is far richer than the purely logical and scientific mindset that?s now common.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on October 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ciardi, a noted poet and educator in the post-World War II era --and an Italian American -- remains after many years the most accessible Dante translator to the modern American ear. Of the generation of great American writers who reshaped our language, he was a lively fully engaged fellow and not prisoner of any ivory tower, despite his peerless credentials. Line by line, stanza by stanza, it shows. The Comedy requires many talents and understanding life and people is not the least of them.

"Dante was a drummer," Ciardi aptly notes in his introduction, and Ciardi's meter and rhyme scheme give a good English facsimile of Dante's incessant, intoxicating drum beat -- his famous 11 beat terza rima. You simply cannot do it in English, where most words end in hard consonants, not open vowels as in Italian. Yeah some people have tried -- always a noble aim -- but unless you're Superman don't climb Everest without oxygen. Purism will never get most of us through a first reading of this poem or for that matter through a few readings after. Music is what you need and Ciardi expertly lays it down.

About the poem? I've read it 7 times through, in different translations (Ciardi thrice) over 40 years and am just getting started. I do Ciardi between the others because I love my good modern Yankee language, soon drown without it. Ciardi really understands it -- from the jive of the street punk to the most austere scholar or saint -- its all here -- Dante's whole world talking to you like everybody you ever met.
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