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Visions of Heaven & Hell Before Dante Paperback – September 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent anthology of translations of many of the key vision texts from the second to the early thirteenth century." -- Medium Aevum, vol. 61, no. 1

"An important map of the medieval imagination." -- A Common Reader, Spring 1990

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Italica Press (September 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0934977143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0934977142
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the early 1970s, as a young Art student in Leeds, I was browsing amongst the books at Lewis's when I picked up a paperback whose cover attracted me. It was one of those moments in your life that change you. The book was John Ciardi's fantastic translation of Dante's "Inferno".
Ciardi's translation was so approachable, the notes that accompanied it were so informative, the imagery was so inspirational! Over the years I have read several translations of Dante's "Divine Comedy" and seen many visual interpretations of the book (my favourite being Blake's visions). It is, therefore, no surprise that I picked up this book.
These predecessors of the Divine Comedy are important in our understanding of how Dante's poem drew on the visions of those who came before. Generally the visions are predictable and repetitive; souls suffer terrible torments by fire, they are torn apart by terrible beasts and demons, the parts are fried in pans and cauldrons, terrible stenches fumes and noise fill the air. One often gets the sense that the witnesses are taking great pleasure in describing the punishment being meted out in this chaos. Heaven, on the other hand, is a place of calm and sweet perfumes. Music plays an important role in this process of producing a sense of peace, as does the occasional vision of Christ on the cross or sat on His throne.
Some of the visions are quite boring, particularly the seemingly pointless, meandering and repetitive voyage of St. Brendan. This particular vision is, however, brightened up by a super description of a volcanic eruption which stands in for the mouth of Hell.
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Excellent.
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This book was in excellent condition. I am more than satisfied with the purchase and pleased with the service.
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