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November 23 , 2008

Dante's Inferno: The Divine Comedy, Book One


In his introduction, the translator says: "I suppose that a very great majority of English-speaking people, if they were asked to name the greatest epic poet of the Christian era in Western Europe, would answer Dante." THE DIVINE COMEDY continues to be widely read today, whether for its religious inspiration or for the sheer power of its verse. The first part of the epic, THE INFERNO, tells how the narrator "loses his way," and finds himself in a strange landscape he's never seen before. There he encounters the shade of the ancient Roman poet, Virgil, who offers to lead him through the nine circles of Hell. The damned of Dante's imagination, it's quite clear, have condemned themselves through their actions or inactions to become permanent prisoners of the nether regions. Down, down, down, go Dante and his guide, meeting friend and foe alike, with horror piled upon horror. Finally, they must climb Satan's body to find the only possible exit from this terrible place – where once more the poet will "see again the stars."

A first-rate modern rendering of a literary classic!

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