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The Divine Comedy; Hardcover – April 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 298 pages
  • Publisher: BiblioLife (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1140259105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1140259107
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 10 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Long narrative poem originally titled Commedia (about 1555 printed as La divina commedia) written about 1310-14 by Dante. The work is divided into three major sections--Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso--which trace the journey of a man from darkness and error to the revelation of the divine light, culminating in the beatific vision of God. It is usually held to be one of the world's greatest works of literature. The plot of The Divine Comedy is simple: a man is miraculously enabled to visit the souls in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. He has two guides: Virgil, who leads him through the Inferno and Purgatorio, and Beatrice, who introduces him to Paradiso. Through these fictional encounters taking place from Good Friday evening in 1300 through Easter Sunday and slightly beyond, Dante the character learns of the exile that is awaiting him (an actual exile that had already occurred at the time of writing). This device allowed Dante not only to create a story out of his exile but also to explain how he came to cope with personal calamity and to offer suggestions for the resolution of Italy's troubles as well. Thus, Dante's story is historically specific as well as paradigmatic; his exile serves as a microcosm of the problems of a country, and it also becomes representative of the Fall of Man. The basic structural component of The Divine Comedy is the canto. The poem consists of 100 cantos, which are grouped into the three major sections, or canticles. Technically there are 33 cantos in each canticle and one additional canto, contained in the Inferno, that serves as an introduction to the entire poem. For the most part the cantos range from 136 to 151 lines. The poem's rhyme scheme is the terza rima (aba, bcb, cdc, etc.) Thus, the divine number three is present in every part of the work. Dante adopts the classical convention of a visit to the land of the dead, but he adapts it to a Christian worldview by beginning his journey there. The Inferno represents a false start during which Dante, the character, must be disabused of harmful values that somehow prevent him from rising above his fallen world. Despite the regressive nature of the Inferno, Dante's meetings with the damned are among the most memorable moments of the poem: the Neutrals, the virtuous pagans, Francesca da Rimini, Filipo Argenti, Farinata degli Uberti, Piero delle Vigne, Brunetto Latini, the simoniacal popes, Ulysses, and Ugolino impose themselves upon the reader's imagination with tremendous force. Nonetheless, the journey through the Inferno primarily signifies a process of separation and thus is only the initial step in a fuller development. In the Purgatorio the protagonist's spiritual rehabilitation commences. There Dante subdues his own personality so that he will be able to ascend. He comes to accept the essential Christian image of life as a pilgrimage, and he joins the other penitents on the road of life. At the summit of Purgatory, where repentant sinners are purged of their sins, Virgil departs, having led Dante as far as human knowledge is able--to the threshold of Paradise. Beatrice, who embodies the knowledge of divine mysteries bestowed by Grace, continues Dante's tour. In the Paradiso true heroic fulfillment is achieved. Dante's poem gives expression to those figures from the past who seem to defy death and who inspire in their followers a feeling of exaltation and a desire for identification. The Paradiso is consequently a poem of fulfillment and of completion. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

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

More About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence. His family, of minor nobility, was not wealthy nor especially distinguished; his mother died when he was a child, his father before 1283. At about the age of 20 he married Gemma Donati, by whom he had three children. Little is known of Dante's formal education-it is likely to have included study with the Dominicans, the Augustinians, and the Franciscans in Florence, and at the university in Bologna. In 1295 he entered Florentine politics and in the summer of 1300 he became one of the six governing Priors of Florence. In 1301, the political situation forced Dante and his party into exile. For the rest of his life he wandered through Italy, perhaps studied at Paris, while depending for refuge on the generosity of various nobles. He continued to write and at some point late in life he took asylum in Ravenna where he completed the Divine Commedia and died, much honoured, in 1321.

Customer Reviews

John Ciardi's translation makes Dante very easy to understand.
charski
Perhaps the hard copy is of poor quality, but if purchased for the Kindle, expect great things.
Nikki
Ciardi also provides a summary page before each cantos, and very extensive and helpful notes.
Mintie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

186 of 192 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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171 of 178 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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214 of 235 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.
Read more ›
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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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