As an adaptation of Dante this one falls somewhere in between Birk and Sanders excellent work on Inferno and their more problematic take on PurgatorioAs an adaptation of Dante this one falls somewhere in between Birk and Sanders excellent work on Inferno and their more problematic take on Purgatorio. As with Purgatorio some of the artwork choices really don't fit, though here that issue is less problematic.
As with the previous two entries in this series, it's a fun take on Dante but should by no means be your first or only introduction to the Commedia...more
This is a solid, if somewhat basic, overview of the Divine Comedy. A lot of it was familiar to me, but Leithart's discussion of the different structurThis is a solid, if somewhat basic, overview of the Divine Comedy. A lot of it was familiar to me, but Leithart's discussion of the different structural elements in Dante were eye opening and excellent.
I'd definitely recommend this - along with Dante Worlds - to a new Dante reader or someone looking to reread with some guidance. ...more
I just finished rereading (well, re-listening if I'm being accurate) to this. I'd forgotten just how good it is. There's a ton going on on the surfaceI just finished rereading (well, re-listening if I'm being accurate) to this. I'd forgotten just how good it is. There's a ton going on on the surface in terms of character and plot, but what really sets American Gods apart is its depth.
This book is, among other things, an examination of mythology, natural religion, American beliefs, American sociology, the immigrant experience, the nature of belief, and so much more. I could go on about it for quite some time, which is something I plan to do along with Matt Anderson in a not-that-far-in-the-future episode of The Sci-Fi Christian ...more
This is a paraphrase/loose translation of the Inferno. While I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a replacement for reading an actual translation, asThis is a paraphrase/loose translation of the Inferno. While I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a replacement for reading an actual translation, as a supplement its quite enjoyable. The biggest draw though is not the text but the extremely unique artwork, which places scenes from the Inferno in a modern LA. It's every bit as bizarre and fascinating as it sounds.
My four star rating is due to two main deficiencies in the translation. The first is that, at times, the language is too casual or updated. Mostly this updating works, but at times its jarring and feels anachronistic in a bad way.
The more grievous offense, however, is their inexplicable choice to include the names Jesus, God, and Mary in the text. Anytime Dante refers to those three in the Inferno he does so euphemistically. It's a subtle, but important, part of his art and theology. It may seem a minor point, but if you're going to translate Dante this is the sort of thing you need to be aware of. For many readers it will likely go unnoticed. For me it was unbearably obvious...more
For this year's Dante reading, I read the John Ciardi, Henry Longfellow, and Anthony Esolen translations in parallel. These are a couple thoughts on eFor this year's Dante reading, I read the John Ciardi, Henry Longfellow, and Anthony Esolen translations in parallel. These are a couple thoughts on each of those translations
Ciardi: I really enjoy the translation, though the rhyme scheme is forced at times (Ciardi himself admits this in some of his notes). When considering not only the text but the accompanying notes and Canto summaries, Ciardi's edition is, in my opinion, the best all around option out there.
Longfellow: This is the translation famous for reviving an American interest in Dante. It's good, though a bit unapproachable for modern audiences. He also has a tendency to scale back some of Dante's more graphic moments. That won't be an issue as I move onto Purgatorio and especially Paradiso, but in Inferno it's distracting. If Dante talks about shit and asses, let him talk about shit and asses.
Esolen: As far as pure translation goes, this is my favorite of the three. It's readable but doesn't lose the poetry. My understanding (as someone who doesn't speak medieval Italian) it's also quite accurate. When considering not only the text but also the features, Esolen's edition has great notes that mix scholarship and faith (he's a devout Catholic and it comes through in his introduction and notes). He also has some supplementary texts in his appendixes that are of interest to the dedicated reader. The one knock I give his edition, and the reason that as a stand alone edition I put Ciardi's ahead of his, is that the canto summaries are too sparse. However, if you're willing to supplement the canto summaries with something like Danteworlds or Sparknotes, Esolen pulls well ahead of Ciardi
I finished Mary Jo Bang's translation. Actually, it's a translation/paraphrase though probably a bit closer to the translation end of the spectrum than the Sandow Birk edition. It's paraphrasing/updating is where it tends to stand out, as Bang includes numerous pop culture and post-Dantean literary references (including the amusing choice to replace Ciacco the Hog with South Park's Cartman in Circle 3). While I wouldn't say this was my favorite translation - and I'd probably put Birk's edition ahead of Bang's for those looking for an updated Inferno - I'm glad I read it and am disappointed that she didn't also translate Purgatorio and Paradiso ...more
In addition to being a must-read classic, this one is worth it for the 5th act alone. Faustus' final monologue as he awaits his descent into hell - reIn addition to being a must-read classic, this one is worth it for the 5th act alone. Faustus' final monologue as he awaits his descent into hell - reaching the point of being ready to accept grace but ultimately deeming himself unworthy- is heart-wrenching. ...more
This is a simply phenomenal book and one of Lewis' best. Even if you have no interest in Paradise Lost (for shame!) the first half of the book on theThis is a simply phenomenal book and one of Lewis' best. Even if you have no interest in Paradise Lost (for shame!) the first half of the book on the form and content of epic poetry is a wonderful resource. Highly recommended ...more
Iron John is commonly regarded as one of the major men's books written over the past few decades. In many ways it functions as a secular Wild at HeartIron John is commonly regarded as one of the major men's books written over the past few decades. In many ways it functions as a secular Wild at Heart. It's an easy read that covers a lot of deep issues relating to masculinity.
There's a lot to like about this book, as well as a few problems. I'll start with the good stuff. First, I love the mythological approach Bly takes to masculinity. He's considered one of the foremost figures in the Mythopoetic Men's Movement, and for good reason. He not only understands the value of mythology, he's able to draw you into the myth and teach from it.
Second, the book represented some unique takes on masculine initiation. Much of the discussion of initiation was familiar to other sources, and necessarily so. The only idea of initiation is walking a tried and true path, not reinventing the wheel. However, that doesn't mean there's no room for fresh perspective. I found Bly's suggestion that it may be beneficial and necessary for the lover archetype to come into a boy's life before the warrior to be fascinating. I'm not sure to what extent I agree, but I love the idea.
Third, Iron John represents a balanced and holistic view of masculinity. There's no part of the book where it feels like Bly is short shifting one issue and overemphasizing another. As a result, this is a great introduction to masculine issues.
Now for a couple of drawbacks.
First, Bly can be a bit long winded at times. He's a terrific writer, and I certainly don't want a book that's so condensed and digestible that it loses the beauty of the language. Honestly, I can't stand books like that (I'm looking at you John Maxwell). However, there were times where it felt like a little more trimming would have been appropriate.
Second, I come at men's issues from a mostly evangelical perspective, which Bly does not share. As a result there are places where Bly and I part ways rather decisively. This isn't a criticism in the sense that I expect Bly to share my views, but I also can't pretend as a reader to not be reading from my Christian worldview. As a result, I see Bly's work, while being very good and worthwhile, as ultimately falling short in several areas.
The good far outweighs the bad in this one. This is a must read for any man seeking to understand himself or any woman interested in learning more about the men in her life...more