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on April 2, 2013
I've read The Divine Comedy several times, in different translations, but I have always found Paradise a slog. I'm happy to report that Clive James has made even this abstract exploration of light and doctrine (and, I might add, occasionally smug self-righteousness on Dante's part) a fascinating journey. James has chosen an unusual verse form - quatrains, with an abab rhyme scheme - to translate this, but it works well: it moves quickly and smoothly, each line pulling you forward to the next. I'm sure the labor was intensive, but most of the time the word order, the rhythm, the rhymes all fall into place as if they just happened that way. It unfolds naturally. And James has extended the verse in places by filling in some of the oblique references Dante makes. You can read it without having to flip back and forth between notes, which is a good thing, because there aren't any.

There are risks in bringing notes into the verse itself: some references in the poem are ambiguous; which do you pick? James tries to stick close to scholarly consensus, where there is any. For example, the "one who made the great refusal" is identified in the verse as Pope Celestine: if you have to pick one among many, that IS the closest to a scholarly consensus; but purists would argue against closing off other possibilities. If that bothers you, this is not the translation for you. But if you've never read Dante before, I would definitely recommend starting here.

My one complaint is that the quatrains are not separated by a space. I don't know whether this was James's decision or the publisher's. I suppose it was an effort to increase the forward momentum and call less attention to the formal structure. Just a personal preference on my part; in no way does it detract from the readability of the poem.

(In case this review floats around, the way they sometimes do on Amazon, I should clarify that I'm describing the 2013 translation by Clive James.)
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on November 4, 2016
I am very excited to begin reading this magnificent poetry!
By inspecting the physical features of this book, I am amazed on how well the shipping and handling is! The book feels and looks new, unharmed, and no pages are creased. I ordered a paperback.....PAPERBACK! Still, the book arrived with no damage or any sign of poor handling and shipping.

I will definitely order more books when I finish this first.
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on February 15, 2014
I read tha Dante's Divine Comedy was considered by most literary masters and teachers, to be the greatest single literary work of man. This made me curious. I got the hardcover version. I have to say, it is truely awesome. It is a hard read in that it is not modern english. Just check out the "look inside" to see some of what I mean. The whole book is like that. What this means is you have to really think about what the guy is saying This has become a good mental exercise for me and I am loving it all the way. Some of the stuff in here is truely awesome writing. Maybe it really is the greatest literay piece of man?

Hail Flavius!
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on March 27, 2014
I cannot judge the translation quality except to say that those more knowledgeable than I say it is excellent. From my standpoint, they are correct. To be more specific, who cannot value this work, I wonder. It was written for "regular people" of Dante's day, so is not, as many have thought, for the effete. I have hesitated during my adult life, 'till now, to approach Dante and this work. This review is to encourage "everyday people" to get their own copy, a good one like this, and keep returning to it, reading little or much each time. It is a work first to read, letting the words and rhythms move across the mind, not necessarily being concerned about interpretation at first. There is, in my view, a strong likelihood that each wading or swimming into this work is so much worth the effort.
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on February 8, 2011
There was some confusion here with all the various Kindle versions and the titling of this item. This item which goes for just about full price compared with the print media is the Kindle version of the John Ciardi translation of the entire DIVINE COMEDY, all three parts which you can prove by downloading the free sample to your Kindle. In my humble opinion it is worth the price as I think it's one of the best translations out there bar none. The notes that come with the text provide cultural information contemporary to the original writing which is worth the price on its own.


Just wanted to make it clear what exactly is being offered for download here as it is NOT clear.

The 99 cent version is the Longfellow translation which you can prove by downloading a free sample.

I think you get what you pay for.


-- Mike
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on February 3, 2013
The recent translations of this Western tower are sublime. Whether you're more inclined to enjoy the splendid Hollanders and their smooth renderings or the fabulous Durling translation with its more spiky word for word (as best as possible) attempt, or the justifiably popular Esolen, Musa or Mandelbaum college-push translations, you are in good hands. Dante has caught up to Homer and Virgil of those ancient classics, now powerfully translated, that bring to the modern reader the living glory of these master works. With Fagles, Logue, Lombardo, and Fitzgerald prowling the battle lines, the reader of the Greek and Latin touch stones had a head start on bringing ancient triumphs to modern ears, eyes and hearts with a force and a word music that is irresistible. Now The Comedy has joined the ranks of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid in the modern glory ranks where readers have a choice and where there are a host of worthy champions.

That said the electrifying Kirkpatrick translation, smooth here, driven by a lofty but clear blank verse there, is the only one that is formatted without the hassle of dealing with the Italian text intruding anywhere near the English-only reader. The Hollander, at least, separates the two texts (English and Italian), but everyone else feels the need to jam the Italian text into the English text at unfortunate intervals. Thus one might be sailing along in English only to be waylaid, before the Canto is even over, with more Italian text as if the average English reader of Dante would so veer. Worse the Italian intrusion is not side by side in comparison mode, but beneath, on top, and in the middle of the English flow creating a jumbled format that is, at best, annoying and, at worst, a disaster.

The magnificent Kirkpatrick translation, at least in this three in one work, loses the Italian altogether and drives home the English rendering with considerable force and word music. The notes are splendid with links ready and available for back and forth use and, as someone who has most of the translations of this work in hard copy and in e-book form (Yes, I even love Sandow Birk's funky, ultra-hip version), I can tell you that the excellent Kirkpatrick translation is now my Dante of choice in a superb, and now very worthy and crowded, field.

TS Eliot said that Dante and Shakespeare divided the Western poetry world between them with no third to sully their ranks. Reading Kirkpatrick's glorious rendering of this great poetical, theological, philosophical and just plain fun and quite naughty adventure--and an irrefragable Western pillar to boot--will show you why.
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on April 20, 2016
While Dante's writing is full of allegory it is still very beautiful. Sometime is it difficult to understand but if you continue to read meaning tends to fall into place. The Divine Comedy is a great work. As a reader we are taken to hell, purgatory and paradise. While it is not for everyone, there is much to learn and enjoy.
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on January 7, 2015
This particular edition/translation is relatively readable. Mark Musa, the translator, included exceptionally good notes to help the reader understand the story. That is a big plus for me. Trust me when I say that you will want to read the notes carefully at the end of each Canto. Otherwise, you will more than likely not follow the action or understand the significance of the narrative. You, more or less, will not need to use Spark Notes or Book Rag for a summary and analysis of this version of the Inferno. The notes are that good. I recommend this for anyone wishing to read Dante's Inferno.
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on March 8, 2014
Being a book collector and a Dante devotee, this edition was a special find. This is one of the very best editions of the Divine Comedy that I have ever seen. The Gustave Dore artwork is extraordinary. It arrived extremely well packaged and much faster than I had expected. Its condition was also better than expected. Not everyone is a Dante devotee, but those who are should search Amazon for this edition. The price was extremely reasonable. I appreciate and recommend the seller highly. Once again, thank you Amazon. I will watch for other listings by this seller. It's always wonderful to conduct a transaction with a company/seller who have the customers best interest at heart. Thank you very much!
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on February 24, 2015
Dante's consciousness enveloped most of the religious and political history up to his time on earth and it is all in this volume. Additionally,it is the story of his enduring love of Beatrice, who helped him experience the grace of God, which enabled his intellect to be free to write this magnificent story of man's quest for the truth of existence.
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