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The Divine Comedy, Part 2: Purgatory (Penguin Classics) (v. 2) Paperback – August 30, 1955

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The Divine Comedy, Part 2: Purgatory (Penguin Classics) (v. 2) + The Divine Comedy, Part 3: Paradise (Penguin Classics) + The Canterbury Tales
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 30, 1955)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440461
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. Considered Italy's greatest poet, this scion of a Florentine family mastered in the art of lyric poetry at an early age. His first major work is La Vita Nuova (1292) which is a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life. Married to Gemma Donatic, Dante's political activism resulted in his being exiled from Florence to eventually settle in Ravenna. It is believed that The Divine Comedy—comprised of three canticles, The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso—was written between 1308 and 1320. Dante Alighieri died in 1321.

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Customer Reviews

It's a journey through the afterlife and coming to grips with one's rise from sin to God's good grace.
The book is a classic, and for those who are willing to spend time going through the explanations that follow the poem's text, it's an interesting read.
Mark Twain once (possibly apocryphally) described a "classic" as a book everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read.
Sid Nuncius

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By "acominatus" on February 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This review relates to the volume 1 of Dante Alighieri's
-The Divine Comedy-, Hell; Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers,
Penguin Classics, 1949. 346 pp.
Other reviewers have spoken to the perceived weaknesses
and problems with this particular translation and
volume, with Ms. Sayers' "Introduction" and "Notes."
Perhaps one should be warned before entering its portals,
as constructed by Ms. Sayers, that this is not an "easy"
Hell to assimilate.
Yet, at the beginning of her "Introduction," she presents
the offering in an inviting fashion: "The ideal way of
reading -The Divine Comedy- would be to start at the first
line and go straight through to the end, surrendering to
the vigour of the story-telling and the swift movement
of the verse, and not bothering about any historical
allusions or theological explanatios which do not occur
in the text itself. That is how Dante himself tackles
his subject."
Some readers may not find Ms. Sayers' translation to be
one that lends itself to "swift movement of the verse."
The value here, however, is the wealth of information
provided in both the "Introduction", the Notes, and
in the map drawings which clearly help the mind's eye
understand the "lay-out" of Hell as depicted by Dante.
The value of Ms. Sayer's "Introduction" is its clear
presentation of HER view of Dante, his work, his value,
his meaning, and his emphases.
She concentrates on the Images of Hell and on the Christian
doctrine implicit in the work.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. Dubuc on January 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Having wanted to read Inferno for a long time, I was glad to find Dorothy Sayers' translation since I value her own writing. I'm no scholar, so I can't compare this critically to the numerous other translations available. I just come looking to enjoy reading and understanding great classic literature on occasion. It takes a great deal of background information to appreciate this work. The Divine Comedy can be examined from many different angles: Poetry, allegory, theology, a spiritual journey, a love story. Sayers' introduction and notes, and the diagrams and drawings in this book were a great help to me. Some may argue that the scholarship is a bit dated, but Sayers clearly loved The Divine Comedy and wanted her readers to appreciate it also. The result of her work was a very interesting reading experience for me, better than I expected. I particularly enjoyed the insights she incorporated into the notes from Charles Williams' book, The Figure of Beatrice. (Sayers dedicated her translation of The Divine Comedy to Williams.) The verse might make it a little more difficult to get the meaning until you get used to it, but I think it's worth the effort. Once I found a good reading pace, I didn't find the rhyming forced as some readers have. (It might seem that way if you look for it.) It must be a difficult thing to try to give readers of English the same experience that Dante's Italian readers had and I think that was Dorothy Sayers' goal. She got me interested enough to take seriously her claim that readers of Dante are cheating themselves if they stop after Inferno. On through Purgatory to Paradise ... It must only get better from here.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Well,I just had to write this since reading Hell and Purgatory.I used 3 versions.I read both books using the Sayers and Mandellbaum version.The sayers version is the BEST of all version,especially the notes.The Sayers notes and her commentary is the finest,and trying to view this book from a christian point-of-view,her notes are essential to any reader.Now,I will say this,the Mandellbaum version is not as beautiful as Sayers,but it is more literal.You get a better view of what is happening.So...I would reccomend reading the book from sayers and mandellbaum together.Or get some Cliff notes,to get a literal version.But...you absolutley need the sayers book,at the very least for the commentary and notes,or you'll never know what truley is happening in the book.Yes!...the sayers version is christian,and non-compromising,....but what do you expect?Its a christian book!If you want a humanist secular view get any other version.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By arucuan on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let's begin with Dante. Called "the divine poet" (hence the adjective attached to his humbly titled Commedia), it is a difficult moniker to argue with, not because Dante is writing of heaven but because his imagery, his imagination, and his humility are true imitations of the creative activity of God. Dante is a sublime "sub-creator" to use the coinage of JRR Tolkien. If you can read the Commedia and not be moved to tears, one is tempted to doubt your humanity for Dante portrays the race in all its beauty and putridness and denies neither. He neither celebrates mankind's faculties and achievements beyond their due nor fears to recognize the vileness of which humans are capable.

And it is Canticle II, the poet's ascent through Purgatory, which stirs so deeply the soul and inspires the very penitence and hope of purgation which Dante describes there. One need not be a Roman Catholic or ascribe to Purgatory as doctrine in order to recognize and appreciate what Dante has done in describing the landscape of repentance and hope. (Being a Christian may help, but even on this point one suspects that the divine poet may well perform the function of evangelist, as well as exegete, and lead the searching soul to beatific vision of its own.) Clearly his purpose is not merely to describe what sinners of the past are doing in the afterlife to purify their souls for Paradise, but also to inspire his contemporary readers (who are, of course, yet living when the poem is published in 1321) to examine themselves just as the joyful penitents do on the cornices of Mount Purgatory. It is refreshing--a sort of glorious wound, the healing of which leaves one stronger and more whole than he had been before the hurt.

But what of the translation?
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