Michelle's Reviews > The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
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Mar 11, 12

bookshelves: earned-its-fame, enriching-symbolism, long-but-worthwhile, vividly-described
Recommended for: Everyone literate
Read from January 30 to February 22, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

If by "classic book" one means "a book that must be read by everyone because of everything it did and how powerful it still is," then this is a timeless classic. The three parts of the Divine Comedy are all fairly different, so I'll look at them one at a time.

Inferno. This is the most vivid, gripping part of the book. The punishments are strange but horribly fitting, the encounters are brief and filling, and the order of Hell's circles fitting.

Purgatorio. As a Protestant, I do not believe in Purgatory in any way, shape or form, but read as one man's exploration of the idea, this was fascinating. Again, the punishments were creative, but notably less harsh.

Paradiso. This is the part where things get less descriptive and more philosophical. This, unfortunately, made it both more difficult to read, and didn't balance out with the other two parts. Compare people turned into sentient, bleeding trees to, well, light everywhere. If only Dante had had a Hubble telescope, this would have been magnificent. Even here, though, it isn't even mediocre, it just could have been so much more.

There are a lot of references to events and people contemporary to Dante's day, but with a good annotated version, you should be fine. This book must be read. Sure, its metaphors can be kind of loopy, and the theology is fairly questionable, but it is one of a few Christian epics, and it is amazing.
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