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La Divina Commedia #1-3

The Divine Comedy

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This Everyman’s Library edition–containing in one volume all three cantos, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso–includes an introduction by Nobel Prize—winning poet Eugenio Montale, a chronology, notes, and a bibliography. Also included are forty-two drawings selected from Botticelli’s marvelous late-fifteenth-century series of illustrations.

Translated in this edition by Allen Mandelbaum, The Divine Comedy begins in a shadowed forest on Good Friday in the year 1300. It proceeds on a journey that, in its intense recreation of the depths and the heights of human experience, has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery of its own identity.

Mandelbaum’s astonishingly Dantean translation, which captures so much of the life of the original, renders whole for us the masterpiece of that genius whom our greatest poets have recognized as a central model for all poets.

798 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1320

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About the author

Dante Alighieri

1,475 books4,789 followers
Dante Alighieri, or simply Dante (May 14/June 13 1265 – September 13/14, 1321), is one of the greatest poets in the Italian language; with the comic story-teller Boccaccio and the poet Petrarch, he forms the classic trio of Italian authors. Dante Alighieri was born in the city-state Florence in 1265. He first saw the woman, or rather the child, who was to become the poetic love of his life when he was almost nine years old and she was some months younger. In fact, Beatrice married another man, Simone di' Bardi, and died when Dante was 25, so their relationship existed almost entirely in Dante's imagination, but she nonetheless plays an extremely important role in his poetry. Dante attributed all the heavenly virtues to her soul and imagined, in his masterpiece The Divine Comedy, that she was his guardian angel who alternately berated and encouraged him on his search for salvation.

Politics as well as love deeply influenced Dante's literary and emotional life. Renaissance Florence was a thriving, but not a peaceful city: different opposing factions continually struggled for dominance there. The Guelfs and the Ghibellines were the two major factions, and in fact that division was important in all of Italy and other countries as well. The Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor were political rivals for much of this time period, and in general the Guelfs were in favor of the Pope, while the Ghibellines supported Imperial power. By 1289 in the battle of Campaldino the Ghibellines largely disappeared from Florence. Peace, however, did not insue. Instead, the Guelf party divided between the Whites and the Blacks (Dante was a White Guelf). The Whites were more opposed to Papal power than the Blacks, and tended to favor the emperor, so in fact the preoccupations of the White Guelfs were much like those of the defeated Ghibellines. In this divisive atmosphere Dante rose to a position of leadership. in 1302, while he was in Rome on a diplomatic mission to the Pope, the Blacks in Florence seized power with the help of the French (and pro-Pope) Charles of Valois. The Blacks exiled Dante, confiscating his goods and condemning him to be burned if he should return to Florence.

Dante never returned to Florence. He wandered from city to city, depending on noble patrons there. Between 1302 and 1304 some attempts were made by the exiled Whites to retrieve their position in Florence, but none of these succeeded and Dante contented himself with hoping for the appearance of a new powerful Holy Roman Emperor who would unite the country and banish strife. Henry VII was elected Emperor in 1308, and indeed laid seige to Florence in 1312, but was defeated, and he died a year later, destroying Dante's hopes. Dante passed from court to court, writing passionate political and moral epistles and finishing his Divine Comedy, which contains the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. He finally died in Ravenna in 1321.

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Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
December 27, 2008
"You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth."

- Niels Bohr

I was thinking about Dante the other day and wondering how one could approach him from the angle of a GoodReads review. One of the obvious problems is that he lived a long time ago, and many of the cultural referents have changed. You're constantly having to think "Well, nowadays what he's saying would correspond to THAT". It isn't so bad in Hell, when there is plenty of entertainment to be had in seeing how the different sins are punished, and indulging your schadenfreude. Then Purgatory tells a moral story that's more or less timeless if you go for that sort of thing, but once you arrive in Paradise it starts getting seriously tricky. A lot of the stuff at first sight just seems irrelevant to the 21st century world... all these explanations about the mechanics of Ptolomaic astronomy, and Dante querying the inhabitants of Heaven on obscure theological points. It's notorious that readers most often give up somewhere in the third book. I started wondering if there was any modern-day author one could identify with Dante, and if that might help us connect to his concerns. And in fact, I do have a suggestion that some people will no doubt condemn out of hand as completely heretical: Richard Dawkins.

Now of course, I am aware that Dante was deeply immersed in the Christian world-view, and Dawkins is famous for being the world's most outspoken atheist. But it's not quite as crazy as it first may seem. Dante was a Christian to the core of his being, but he was furious with the way the Church was being run; he put several of its leaders, notably Pope Boniface VIII, in Hell. On the other side, I challenge anyone to read "The Ancestor's Tale" to the end, and not, at least for a moment, entertain the idea that Dawkins is in actual fact a deeply religious man. He admits as much himself: as he puts it, it's often not so much that he disagrees with conventionally religious people, more that "they are saying it wrong". Amen to that.

As noted, both Dante and Dawkins are extremely unhappy with the way mainstream religion is being organized. The other characteristic that unites them for me is this passionate love for science. One has to remember that, for Dante, Ptolomaic astronomy was state of the art stuff, and the details of the angelic hierarchy were a topic of vital importance; of course he cross-examines the hosts of the blessed to find out more. These days, I imagine he would be trying to get inside information on what happened during the Big Bang before spontaneous symmetry breaking occurred, whether or not the Higgs particle really exists, and how evolution produced human intelligence. For Dante, there didn't seem to be any opposition between religious faith and science - they were part of the same thing. I do wonder what he would have thought if he had been able to learn that many leading religious figures, even in the early 21st century, reject a large part of science as being somehow unreligious. It's wrong to spend your life dispassionately trying to understand God's Universe? I can see him getting quite angry about this, and deciding to rearrange the seating a little down in Hell.

I keep thinking that there's a book someone ought to write called "Five Atheists You'll Meet in Heaven". Please let me know when it comes out; I'll buy a copy at once.


PS I couldn't help wondering what Paradise might have looked like if Dante had been writing today. Obviously we wouldn't have the old geocentric model of the Universe - it would be bang up to date. I think there is now far more material for an ambitious poet to work with than there was in the 14th century. For example, when we get to the Heaven of the Galaxy, I imagine him using this wonderful fact that all the heavy elements are made in supernova explosions. "We are all stardust", as some people like to put it. Then when we get to the Heaven of the Cosmos, we find that the light from the "Let there be light" moment at the beginning of Creation is still around - it's just cooled to 2.7 degrees K, and appears as the cosmic background radiation. But it's not completely uniform, as the quantum fluctuations left over from the period when the Universe was the size of an atomic nucleus are the beginnings of the galaxies created on the second day. Finally, we reach the Heaven of the Multiverse, and find that we are just one of many different universes. It was necessary to create all of them, so that random processes could make sure that a very small number would end up being able to support life. How impious to assume that God would only be able to create one Universe, and have to tweak all the constants Himself!
Profile Image for Lisa.
971 reviews3,331 followers
July 3, 2019
I once thought I'd write an essay on how long it takes a serious author (of fiction or nonfiction) before he or she inevitably quotes Dante. If I were to write a novel myself (this is a hypothetical grammatical construction!), I'd probably manage about a page before I'd exclaim that I am lost, and middle-aged, and in the middle of a dark forest. I'd try to kill off annoying acquaintances and punish them severely for their lack of admiration for me and my creativity (not to mention my sarcasm and irony!!), and of course I would meet my teenage love and be joined together forever in eternal happiness in the end (or maybe not, come to think of it, I might skip that part!), after spending a life travelling the underworld in the company of the most brilliant author I can think of.

Dante fulfilled all his (and my!) dreams with the Divina Commedia, and I envy him his bravery and talent, not to mention his ability to write in that beautiful Italian. However, not all parts of the poem were equally appealing to me.

I found myself loving Inferno, liking Purgatorio, and not quite identifying with Paradiso at all.
I always wondered why that is, and concluded that humans are much better at depicting hell than heaven, chaos than order, dystopia than utopia. Reason being, in my (not very important) opinion: there's no storyline behind real bliss, and without stories, we are not entirely connected to humanity and its questions anymore. Paradiso is nice, but uninteresting, sort of.
"Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate" - the ticket to hell: I doubt if there ever was a better advertisement for a rollercoaster adventure!

Update in Year One Of Post-Truth Wall Building:

I am still lost in that dark forest of middle age, trying to make sense of life, and Dante comes to mind more and more often, in the same way Orwell's 1984 does: it grows more realistic with every day that passes. This morning, "The Wall Of Dis" all of a sudden forced itself upon my thoughts, - the great wall separating Dante's Upper and Lower Hell. Upper Hell is for the Carnal, Gluttonous, Greedy, and Wrathful, whereas the other side of the wall contains the Heretical, Violent, Fraudulent and Treacherous. It just struck me that every wall in the world has created that kind of "mental division". The typical representatives of "upper hell", consumed by the everyday sins of wanting most of everything for themselves without being bothered by others, usually keep their "moral upper hand" by accusing the "other side of the wall" of worse crimes, such as the "wrong religion", violence, and treason.

The funny (or sad) thing is that it works both ways. You can turn hell upside down and have the same results: egotistical, narcissistic angry men accuse others of treason and heresy to deflect from their own faults. No wonder Inferno is a timeless classic: after all, Dante based it on his own experience of a divisive, violent political situation.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
December 16, 2021
I We attempt to rewrite the Divine Comedy

Canto I

In the middle of the journey of my life
I came across a man named Trump
Who seemed bent on causing much strife

O! how he was an unpleasant, fleshy lump!
Like some hobgoblin of the child's imagination
Or a thing that in the night goes bump.

But in spite of lengthy cogitation
I find I have produced fewer words
Than members of the crowd at an inauguration

I've doubtless disappointed the Dante nerds
And before long may well concede defeat
My plan, I admit, was strictly for the birds

Alas! Success will not these efforts greet
I am totally running out of steam
And will soon be mocked by some misspelled tweet

I had despaired. Then last night, in a dream
I heard a voice say, "Manny, just have some fun.
Go on, I tell you, it'll be a scream."

"Master," I said, "I think I'm not the one."
"Fear not," he answered. "All things will be well.
Recount the tale of Trump and Kim Jong-Un."

"But first," I asked, "What is the place in Hell
Reserved, I hear, for Justin Trudeau's soul
And what his punishment? I beg, please tell."

I said I would continue when I had found new inspiration. I considered changing my muse and interviewed several applicants, but Nandakishore's celestial connections turned out to be better than mine:

Canto II

But verily, the Americans did dump
This gargantuan mistake of evolution
This travesty of humanity called Trump

Down the drain; so, though not a final solution
It does prove that your Muses
Are not entirely mistaken

In clamming up; the mind refuses
To accept the fact that the presidency was taken
By a man whose only claim to fame is

Bankrupting every business he has ever lead;
In fact, one can say that the "Trump" name is
Enough to ensure that the enterprise, as a business, is dead.

And then Théodore also found divine inspiration:

Canto III

Thus my muse is so capricious,
She only visits me when I'm not home.
I know, it sounds so superstitious

But I have this damn syndrome.
There are so Manny reasons to take my life
But wouldn't be a sin, being so handsome ?

Oh joy! My original muse, who apparently had been off on an extended trip to the Empyrean, returned with new verses:

Canto IV

Hunky or not, to leave this vale of strife
And make my dwelling in the wood of suicides
Maybe next to Ted Hughes's ex-wife?

The sweet poetry that she to me confides
With these images my heart is riven
But my good sense the thought derides

That Sylvia will fall for me is not a given
Particularly since she'll be arboreal and dead
That's just some crap I read in Larry Niven
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
August 14, 2021
Divina Commedia = Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia #1-3), Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321.

It is widely considered the preeminent work in Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature.

The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language.

It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Inferno: The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in 1300, "halfway along our life's path". Dante lost in a dark wood, he cannot evade and unable to find the "straight way" – also translatable as "right way" – to salvation. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "low place" (basso loco) where the sun is silent, Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld.

they had their faces twisted toward their haunches
and found it necessary to walk backward,
because they could not see ahead of them.
... and since he wanted so to see ahead,
he looks behind and walks a backward path.

Purgatorio: Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the under gloom to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world. The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere, created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell.

The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins or "seven roots of sinfulness." The classification of sin here is more psychological than that of the Inferno, being based on motives, rather than actions. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. However, Dante's illustrative examples of sin and virtue draw on classical sources as well as on the Bible and on contemporary events. ...

Paradiso: After an initial ascension, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven. These are concentric and spherical, as in Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmology. While the structures of the Inferno and Purgatorio were based on different classifications of sin, the structure of the Paradiso is based on the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues.

The seven lowest spheres of Heaven deal solely with the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance. The first three spheres involve a deficiency of one of the cardinal virtues – the Moon, containing the inconstant, whose vows to God waned as the moon and thus lack fortitude; Mercury, containing the ambitious, who were virtuous for glory and thus lacked justice; and Venus, containing the lovers, whose love was directed towards another than God and thus lacked Temperance.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه جولای سال 1976میلادی

عنوان: کمدی الهی در سه جلد: دوزخ - برزخ - بهشت؛ سروده: دانته آلیگری؛ مترجم: شجاع الدین شفا؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1335؛ موضوع اشعار شاعران ایتالیا - سده 14م

البته که ترجمه های دیگران از نامداران و مترجمان این اثر کم بدیل جداگانه معرفی شده اند

سرود اول بهشت: (جلال ِ ��نکس که گرداننده ی همه چیز است، سرتاسر جهان آفرینش را، به فرمان خویش دارد؛ ولی در اینجا (آسمان) بیشتر، و در جاهای دیگر کمتر متجلی است؛ بدان آسمانی رفتم، که بیش از هر آسمان دگر، از فروغ او بهره مند است، و چیزهایی را دیدم، که آنکس که از آن بالا فرود آمده باشد، نه میداند، و نه میتواند بازگفت؛ زیرا که حس ادراک ما، با نزدیکی به مایه ی اشتیاق خود، چنان مجذوب میشود، که حافظه ی ما را، یارای همراهی با آن نمیماند؛ با این همه، آنچه را که از قلمرو مقدس (بهشت) در گنجینه ی اندیشه، جای توانسته ام داد، اکنون مایه ی این سرود خویش میکنم، و بازش میگویم؛ ای «آپولوی» نیک نهاد، برای این سهم آخرین، مرا آن اندازه، از نبوغ خویش عطا کن، که برای سپردن تاج افتخار محبوب خود به کسان، از آنان طلب میکنی...)؛ پایان نقل از برگردان روانشاد «شجاع الدین شفا»؛

میاندیشم این رویاها را، شاید در خیال خواب خویش، همگان نیز دیده باشیم، «دانته» نیز دیده است؛ این منظومه ی بلند، دارای سه بخش «دوزخ»، «برزخ» و «بهشت» است، و هر بخشی سی ‌و سه چکامه (کانتو) دارد، که با مقدمه، در کل شامل یکصد چکامه می‌شود؛ «دانته» برای این اثر از قافیه ‌پردازی نوی، که به «قافیه ی سوم» مشهور شد، سود جستند؛ هر چکامه، به بندهای «سه بیتی» تقسیم می‌شود، که بیت اول و سوم، هم قافیه هستند، و بیت میانی، با بیت اول و سوم بند بعدی، دارای قافیه جداگانه ‌است؛ مبنای وزن هر بیت، یازده هجایی است؛ مجموع ابیات «کمدی الهی» به دوازده هزار و دویست و سی و سه بیت می‌رسد؛ زبان این اثر گویش ایالت «توسکانا» در «ایتالیا»ی آن روزگاران است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 22/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
932 reviews17.6k followers
December 24, 2022
Every moment of Dante's gruelling masterpiece is a Revelation of a Timeless Moment:

Timeless Moments of our own or another's Hellish Anger or Hellish Lust; Timeless moments of our own or other's stinging Purgatorial guilt over Sloth or Empty Vanity;: or Timeless Moments of Heavenly Peace and Freedom at last, at the apparent end of our journey.

Once we know the Way Up and the Way Down, our Work is Cut Out for Us!

Reading the Divine Comedy at seventeen was, for me, to see the world sub specie aeternitatis. Apparently that’s not okay in the World’s eyes.

Writing it, in the 14th Century, was not considered okay either.

So Dante was banished for life from Florence.

In the Comedy eternal flame is the just deserts of corrupt conformity.

That doesn’t seem quite right in the eyes of the comfortably politically correct, back then as now. And they, like it or not, always have the final say. And what they say, goes! And Dante had to go.

So reading this literary landmark for the first time, when I was seventeen, marked the inauguration of a colossal climacteric in my life.

The winds of change, back then, were howling all around me and - as if in reaction - Dante’s vertical landscapes, ascending and descending, morphed within my mind to become the central mythos of my world and my young spirit.

For Dante’s work states clearly - from his symbolic POV - that we CAN find lasting happiness and security: in spite of the majority’s comfortable perpetual nay-saying to the contrary.

What we have to do to find it is pacify our dark impulses, work out our emotional trauma with diligence and awareness, and then aspire to reach the gates of Real and Lasting Happiness.

The faith that Dante has finally received from God when he reaches the summit of Purgatory is contained in its ultimate vision - that of the Giant and the Whore being cast, by the Gryphon, into the Pit.

In our times, the Giant is, of course, the controlling robotic Big Brother of us moderns, and the Whore, its eternally driving Desire. The one feeds the other.

And at the End of Time they are both cast into Hell by the mythical Gryphon - the Avenging Lord.

And so dawns the new Heaven and Earth, inexorable and ultimately Victorious, as Dante attains Paradise.

That sums it up: Hell. Purgation. And Paradise. And it all takes place right here on the face of this unforgiving planet.

Now, here’s a key point that many have missed about the Comedia: while it is easy to fall through the cracks of life into an Infernal Reality, it’s next to impossible to maintain a decent attitude while falling.

The cthonic pull of the Inferno is just too intense!

But Dante did it. So, while enduring his cruel vision in the daily life of ruthlessly divided Florence, he kept his rational cool throughout.

It speaks volumes of his character. And it tells you EXACTLY the kind of virtue you need to get to Heaven...

In the era of my first reading of it, my grandmother had a beautifully bound edition of the Longfellow translation - with its wonderful nouveau Gothic plates by Gustave Doré - which I carried all around my parents’ house, absorbed in its mystical milieu.

By the next summer I had graduated to a library loan of the much less bulky-sized John Ciardi translation, in a limited edition with abstract modernistic illustrations.

You know, one or another edition has been with me all throughout the intervening 50+ years between then and now, my literal ‘sine qua non’ Vade Mecum in all of its multiple shapes and sizes!

At university, it was the must-own tiny Everyman Library dual-language edition, with its graceful Pre-Raphaelite line drawings - very easy to stick into my shirt pocket going to and from lectures...

And, do you know, I recently realized that in all my many, many readings of the poetic translations available, I’ve never been able to fully grasp the subtle complexities of Dante’s Aristotelian/Thomist philosophical arguments?

So I picked up Charles Eliot Norton’s eminently accessible PROSE translation for my Kindle.

So, as well as the print edition pictured above - another excellent translation - THAT is the story of my life... in One Book!

And now that the end of of my life is approaching Sooner - rather than Later (or that’s the impression I now get), I can look back at my life, and the world I’ve lived in, and agree with The Comedy’s author that, as is inscribed in bold letters on the glorious facade of the old San Francisco Public Library:

“La gloria di colui che tutto move
Per l’universo penetra, e risplende
In una parte piu e meno altrove.”

“The glory of The Prime Mover penetrates throughout the entire universe - in one part less, and another more!”

And He, the Prime Mover Himself, will guide us safely Home through the howling storms of this dark world if we’re alert to its dangers.

But knowing the dangers, how do we make that first step out of this City of Destruction and forever escape the maws of the ravenous Beasts that keep us from ascending out of its Dark Wood?

The answer is simple. It’s our own appetites that feed the power the beasts have over us. So we first have to “make perfect (our) Will.”

So for me, Dante’s words, being lapidary - meaning etched in stone - were a portent as well as a promise.

For, as we grow older, we must keep always moving, and ever watchful and contrite -

To avoid becoming - like those who dare to dream drunkenly in the face of the Gorgon, Death - Turned Ourselves to Stone:

And SINKING into the Depths!

Cave, lector.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
July 27, 2019

 photo Divine Comedy Satan Botticelli_zpsggfyple5.jpg
Botticelli’s vision of Satan. There are 92 illustrations by Botticelli, inspired by The Divine Comedy, of which this edition contains a selection.

I read Inferno while in college and had always intended to go back and read Purgatorio and Paradiso, but somehow the years passed and I never returned to Dante’s masterpiece. When my son went off to college and asked to borrow some classics to read, I sent him, along with my copy of The Divine Comedy, Canterbury Tales, Utopia, Paradise Lost, and several other important works of literature. The rule with books, of course, is that there is no such thing as lending and returning. The lending part goes fine, but the returning is usually the tricky part. When I decided it was time to return to Dante, I didn’t ask for my copy back from my son, though he would be one of the few people who would return a book. I feel that giving a book to either of my children is an investment in all of our futures.

Since I decided to descend into hell with Dante, I was frequently glad to have Virgil as our guide. He explained the explainable. He provided a protective wing from the many monstrosities that we encounter.

”Gross hailstones, water gray with filth, and snow
Come streaking down across the shadowed air;
The earth, as it receives that shower, stinks.
Over the souls of those submerged beneath
That mess, is an outlandish, vicious beast,
His three throats barking, doglike: Cerberus.
His eyes are bloodred; greasy, black, his beard;
His belly bugles, and his hands are claws;
His talons tear and flay and rend the shades.”

As I was reading Dante’s descriptions of various horrendous beasts, it reminded me of the fantastical medieval expressions of imagination that I’ve encountered numerous times in the margins of holy books. These early monk illustrators displayed such a vivid creativity in how they depicted their fears. I can only wonder how terrifying their nightmares were and for them to believe that these terrors were real would only add wings and claws to their trepidation. They were infected with these fears by Christianity, while being dangled the balm and possibility of heaven.

How about this for a living nightmare?

”As I kept my eyes fixed upon those sinners,
A serpent with six feet springs out against
One of the three, and clutches him completely.
It gripped his belly with its middle feet,
And with its forefeet grappled his two arms;
And then it sank its teeth in both his cheeks;
It stretched its rear feet out along his thighs
And ran its tail along between the two,
Then straightened it again behind his loins.
No ivy ever gripped a tree so fast
As when that horrifying monster clasped
And intertwined the other’s limbs with its.
Then just as if their substance were warm wax,
They stuck together and they mixed their colors,
So neither seemed what he had been before.”

After seeing some of the horrors awaiting us in hell, which has proved to be a much better scare tactic for considering improving my heavenly resume than Death on the Highway or Red Asphalt II were for improving my driving skills, we encountered the pantheon of classical writers Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. Dante was so proud (we will deal with pride in Purgatory) that they accepted him as a member of their club. I was starting to wonder if Dante may have already resigning himself to a life in hell. Are great writers who don’t use their gifts glorifying God doomed to hell?

One of the wonderful things about writing, to paraphrase Chaucer, is that you can eviscerate your enemies forever in print, and certainly the people who had most offended Dante in life were experiencing the tortures of everlasting hell. Writers do play God. Because of the fame of The Divine Comedy, their names will always be associated with a list of famous sinners. I would say that Dante’s revenge was served cold, but really it was rather warmly given.

We also meet some sinners who led pious lives worthy of heaven, but because they were never baptised for the reason they lived before Christianity existed, or fell under the catchall phrase ”did not worship God in fitting ways,” and were all, every one of them, consigned to hell. God does seem to be very particular about all of his children fearing him, loving him above all else, and most importantly of all worshipping him. So it wasn’t about whether these people were good people, but that they showed proper reverence to his worshipness. Later, when I visited heaven, I didn’t see any issues with overcrowding, so I’m not sure why a few get out of hell free cards couldn’t have been surreptitiously handed out to those bereft of sin who didn’t completely conform to his will. How about even just a leg up to purgatory, where eventually one might after thousands of years of suffering earn a pair of wings?

It was with some relief, my deodorant was starting to give way, we ascended to Purgatory and confronted the seven terraced mountain, representing the seven deadly sins. For those in need of a recap, there are the malicious uses of love, such as wrath, envy, and pride, and those where love is too strong, such as lust, gluttony, and greed. Sloth is the only sin not based on excesses, but on a lack of enough self-love or energy to be a contributing member of society. As I weigh myself on these scales, I can honestly say that sloth and greed have never been sins of mine. Pride, I will admit, was a struggle when I was younger, but life has a way of knocking the piss out of us and reminding us constantly that we are only half as smart as we think we are. I’ve had a few wrathful moments in my life, but being around human beings for too long will test the patience of the most sainted among us. Lust I will plead the fifth, and gluttony . . well, food has never been an issue, but one could make a case that I do suffer from a serious case of book gluttony.

I did check out some of the real estate pricing while in Purgatory. *sigh*

It was with some relief that we discovered some angels in purgatory, bedraggled ones to be sure, but still ones doing what we want angels to do, which is protect us from marauding beasts.

”I saw the company of noble spirits,
silent and looking upward, pale and humble,
as if in expectation; and I saw,
emerging and descending from above,
two angels bearing flaming swords, of which
the blades were broken off, without their tips.”

Angels are badass warriors, and there have been several television shows in recent years that has depicted them as soft and warm cuddle buddies, but really angels aren’t for clinking beers with, but for us to stand behind when winged, fire spitting beasts are attempting to turn us into crispy critters.

Dante shared an epiphany with me while in Purgatory that left me thinking about the creation of dreams and how important it is for all of us to continue to build new dreams as we leap the final hurdles of achieving a dream or find that other dreams may no longer suit us.

”A new thought arose inside of me and, from
that thought, still others--many and diverse--
were born: I was so drawn from random thought
to thought that, wandering in mind, I shut
my eyes, transforming thought on thought to dream.”

Virgil was replaced as our guide by Beatrice as we were about three-quarters of the way through Purgatory. I was sorry to see Virgil go, but I must admit I’ve always wanted to meet Beatrice, just to see what type of woman would inspire such a lifetime of devotion from a man like Dante. She was the daughter of a banker, married a banker, and with her premature death at 25 remained forever the very vision of beauty. According to Dante, he only met her twice, but those sightings must have been magical because they left him with a permanent love hangover. I wanted to ask Dante if he had ever even talked to the lass or if he just projected all of his visions of her from glimpses of her outer beauty, but then the fact that she is here in Paradise may answer that question for me.

”In ascent, her eyes--
All beauty’s living seals--gain force, and notes
that I had not yet turned to them in Mars,
can then excuse me--just as I accuse
myself , thus to excuse myself--and see
that I speak truly: here her holy beauty
is not denied--ascent makes it more perfect.”

Heaven light, as it turns out, is even better than bar light. We all look our best.

If you are considering reading Dante, I would recommend for sure reading Inferno. Most likely when you encounter Dante references appearing in your reading, they will probably be from the Inferno. This Allen Mandelbaum translation is wonderful and so easy to read, and there are copious notes in the back to help guide you if Virgil loses you in a flaming forest. This is one of the classic works which I have felt for some time I’ve needed to read. There will be many more this year, including but not limited to War and Peace, Magic Mountain, and Les Miserables.

If a bit of flayed skin flies out from between the pages once in a while, don’t be afraid; it’s just part of the adventure. A word of caution though, be sure to buy some SPF1000 before you take this scenic walk with Dante.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Kalliope.
681 reviews22 followers
February 16, 2016


It is very difficult not to be lured by the highly intelligent craft of Durante degli Aliguieri (DA). And may be it is not a coincidence that he was the exact contemporary of Giotto, his fellow Florentine. For if Giotto planted the seed for a pictorial representation of the world in which man, at the center, and through a window, delivers to us a naturalistic depiction of divine stories, Dante also used his writing to posit himself as the Author who through his fictional persona or Alter-Ego, gives us the viewpoint to contemplate the full cosmos. His cosmos, but for us to share.

Still, we modern readers, in spite of Modernist and PostModernist awareness, are still fooled by DA’s handling of illusion, and easily become pilgrims and start on a literary trip more than ready to absorb everything that DA wants us to see, and think, and believe.


So, for example, we will learn his political views. DA was exiled in 1301 and led a peripatetic life, outside Florence, until his death in 1321. He wrote the Commedia during the exile, from 1309 and finished it in time. By masterfully welding the fact and mythologized fiction of the world of Antiquity, he cloths himself with the full robes of Auctoritas, and presents us the complex development of European politics during the thirteenth century. He summons his views repeatedly either by the succession of visits to the traitors or in fully developed historical pageants.

Of course, Hell is populated by DA’s enemies, with the very pope responsible for his exile, Boniface VIII, holding stardom in Circle 8th. In this Inferno DA is the very Minos. He is the one who with his pen of many tails wraps around his enemies and throws them down the pit to the Circle that DA believes the chosen sinners deserve. Even if this spectacle horrifies his ingenuous Pilgrim.

The ranking of the Inferno Circles reflect also DA’s values. Lust is the least damaging while Treason, in particular political treason and the betrayal of friends, is the most despicable. In comparison even Lucifer, a rendition that remains faithful to the medieval tradition, is not much more than a grotesque, and not particularly hateful, monster.

Politics continue in Purgatory. DA’s audacity is again proved by the way he exploits to its fullest what was still a relatively new concept in Christian dogma (1274). If DA had been Minos in Inferno, he now is the discerning Cato of Purgatory. He is the one holding the Silver and Gold keys, and who claims to know the very intimate thought of those who had the luck to repent the instance just before dying. He awards then the transit ticket to Paradise. Can we be surprised if some of the awardees had some relation to those figures who had welcomed DA during his exile?

DA’s authorial knowledge is supplemented by the granting his protagonist with the role of Messenger of Hope. The Pilgrim, as the only human in Purgatory, can bid for more prayers to the still living relatives when he goes back to Earth. He can effect a change in the duration that any purging sinner is to spend in the transitional stage, the only one of the three realms in which the clock is ticking.

Could one expect DA to finally drop the political discourse in Heaven? No, of course not. There it even acquires greater strength since the discourse is cloaked with a divine mantle. In Paradiso it will be no other than Saint Peter himself who will denounce the path of degeneration that the Papacy had taken in recent years. And if Boniface VIII (died in 1303) had been repeatedly identified as the culprit for the evil in earth, now it is his succeeding popes, --and contemporary to the writing of Commedia--, who are selected by DA’s saintly mouthpiece. Pope Clement V was responsible for the transfer of the papacy to Avignon, and the cupidity of John XXII was for everyone to see.

Indeed, a secluded Apocalyptical 666 attests that politics forms a triptych in Commedia. In agreement with the intricate framework of parallels, symmetries and balances in this work, DA devoted the three chapters 6 in each book to political diatribes.

Apart from his relying on Ancient Auctoritas, DA also accorded the full weight of history to his views, and it is mostly in a couple of major pageants and in the Valley of the Kings that he exposes the political disaster that the withdrawal from the Italian peninsula by the Empire had on the various city states. It was left to the corrupt papacy and to the corrupt smaller kingdoms to spread crime along the full Europe. His solution was clear. The papacy had to govern only religious matters, and he extolled the Emperor Henry VII to hold the political reins of Europe. It is DA’s canonized Beatrice who has a reserved seat for this Emperor in God’s White Flower if he does succeed in exerting his salvific political role.


But the Commedia is not just about politics. This extremely complex work is also soaking in Christian Dogma. Of course politics and dogma were inextricably joined during the Middle Ages, and that was part of DA’s very complaint. And what is to me extraordinary about the immediate reception of Commedia, is that it was treated like Scripture. Even the early editions were illustrated like illuminated manuscripts—which in a way is most befitting if we remember that it is about the progress of a Pilgrim’s as he approaches Light and gains a 20/20 vision elevated tho the Trinitarian power.

In his appeal to religious dogma DA was extraordinarily successful, even if some of his claims were shockingly daring. He modified or added realms to the Christian Cosmos, with the peculiar understanding of the Limbo to accommodate revered figures from Ancient Antiquity, or added the Pre-Purgatory for the unabsolved Rulers. He designed his own ranking of the Sins, both for Hell and Purgatory. But most importantly he proposed his understanding of Free Will and its conflicting relationship to Predetermination and God’s vision. Not by chance did he place the discussion of Free Will at the very center of the work, in Canto 16 of Purgatory.

But the most dangerous proposition, for him, was his vehement defense of the limitations of the Papacy on Earth. He started writing in 1307 just a few years after the Papal Bull of Unam Sanctam the very controversial claim of papal infallibility. Not this book, but Dante’s Monarchia, in which he strongly attacked official tenet, was burned soon after Dante’s death and was included in the list of forbidden books during the 16th century.


To us, however, it is not his proclamations on Dogma, and not even his political views (except for historians), which offer the greatest interest. What is most remarkable for literature addicts is how DA, the author, develops all these themes, and succeeds in weighing with the gravest authority his poetic treatise. And this he does through his masterful manipulation of the power of fiction and the sophisticated uses of voices.

For a start, there is the protagonist: DA’s Alter Ego, and the only human in the full work. His humanity, and his being in the middle of the moral mess in which he has placed himself is the perfect mirror for the reader. But we can trust him to embody us because Virgil, the greatest Roman poet and chronologist of the foundation of Rome, will guide us. We can trust him also because Christian Divinity has selected him as the, temporary, guide. It is only when Virgil’s powers have reached his limits, two thirds into the full work, that the pilgrim’s identity is revealed to us. He is Dante himself, or Dante the Pilgrim (DP). With his revealed identity he can say goodbye to the pagan guide who cannot, alas, have a place in Heaven.

Dante, however, will.

The spoiler provided by our general culture has damaged the way we read the work. The astounding pretention of DA in assigning himself the powers in deciding who goes where in his system of divine retributions has been blurred to some naive readers. Some of them try to excuse Dante precisely because they have been entirely convinced by his acting puppet. The highly successful Dante the Pilgrim (DP) as a candid personality with the qualities of kindness, fear, anger and similar emotions, distracts our attention away from the real Dante, the Author.

The Pilgrim is an alibi mechanism for his creator. He shows pity for the people DA condemns. He can go beyond the Terrace of Pride, in which the rather proud DA may be still spending some of his time. And he becomes the anointed messenger from the Heavens to deliver to us what DA is writing. But we would also be mistaken if we did not recognized that not always him, but many other characters voice DA’s opinion. His brilliant dramatization with innumerable personages constitutes the choir of a ventriloquist.

In the sophisticated Narrative technique, the handling of time is also magisterial. Apart from the symbolic unfolding of the action during Holy Week of the year 1300, and the references to eternal cosmic time, it is the numerous voices of this clever ventriloquist who continually foretell what is to happen to the sinners.

Most outstandingly the voices predict the eternal condemnation of DA’s particular enemies. Some of these were not yet dead at the time of the pilgrimage, but had already passed away when DA was writing his poem. Such an example is the premonition that the most hated pope Boniface VIII will be damned. He died three years later. But there is also the shocking case of the soul that is already in penance while his body is still living on earth. This personality died even after Dante.

Finally it is DP himself, once he has entered Heaven, who engages in this foretelling, and of course, it had to be in his warning to the Popes that were about to be in power in the years after the voyage of the Commedia, reminding them to stay out of politics and to forget material wealth.

The suitability of DP as our Alter-egos to reach salvation is certified by his examinations on the Theological Virtues by the the Apostles Peter, James and John. He passes them with flying colors, because DP acknowledges that his knowledge is based on the Holy Text.

And it is also with Text, and DA was very well versed in exploiting its four levels of interpretation (Literal, allegorical, moral and anagogical), that is, with this new poetry that Dante Aliguieri is proposing a plan for his, and our, salvation. Because after such a heavenly Graduation who can deny the Commedia its status as Prophetic and Scriptural? May be we saw it coming, when the still anonymous Pilgrim posited himself, at the very beginning of the poem, as the 6th greatest poet after the likes of Homer, Ovid, Virgil etc. So, may be it is not by chance that his identity as Dante is revealed until Virgil is used and expensed.

Several other poets also populate the triptychal poem: representatives of the two pioneering schools of Provençal and Sicilian schools, as well as by those Florentines who with or just before DA, started formulating the sweet new style (dolce still novo) and exploring the literary possibilities of the still vernacular Tuscan tongue. But if DA has been exploiting his abilities as ventriloquist, it is with his own voice as a poet that he makes a presence in Commedia. A few of his fictional characters quote some of Dante’s earlier verses.

Having reached the Empirium of the poem, we can stop and think about where Dante Alighieri has taken us. Because, even if not eternal salvation, he has delivered us a most extraordinary feat of literature that we cannot but qualify as divine. Furthermore, he has done so in a newly coined language, to which he added some words of his own invention, and, most outstanding of all, he positioned the Author at the very center of that literary White Rose of fiction.

And this flower continued to exude its rich scent until, in a similar process to the displacement of Giotto’s viewer, Roland Barthes, plucked it in the declaration formulated in his 1967 Essay The Death of the Author.

But before that, it had a long life.

Profile Image for Fernando.
675 reviews1,042 followers
April 2, 2022
"Quien aquí entre, abandone toda esperanza. "

Símbolo inequívoco de su época, esta obra de arte inmortalizada en letras, es un legado universal que Dante nos dejó para siempre y que es un clásico de proporciones épicas que disfruté de principio a final.
Algunas consideraciones:
Mucha gente lee La Divina Comedia interesada solamente por el Infierno, y no es para menos.
Si alguien tiene la inmensa suerte de leer la edición ilustrada por Gustave Doré, llega al Paraíso como si acompañara a Dante buscando a Beatriz.
El Purgatorio es tan, pero tan bueno, que me atrapó. Dante describe los siete pecados capitales de forma tan maravillosa que no la va para nada en zaga al Infierno.
El Paraíso es el la parte que menos gusta. Muchos la consideran tediosa y de una carga teológica muy alta (bueno, estas eran las convicciones de Dante en la época).
Es cierto también que por la obra desfila una larga galería de personajes que no conocemos, por eso, es muy importante contar con una edición que contenga notas aclaratorias, sobre todo de orden histórico más que mitológicas o alegóricas.
La elección de Virgilio no está hecha para nada al azar. Sólo un poeta de ese calibre podría haber acompañado a Dante al Infierno. Recordemos la brillantez de Virgilio para retratar el descenso de Eneas, quien también baja a los infiernos para ir a buscar a su padre Anquises, en el sexto capítulo de "La Eneida".
Yo leí una interesante edición de La Divina Comedia, publicada por Editorial Losada en tres libros, con el agregado de aclaratorias notas adicionales.
Luego conseguí un hermoso volumen de 1946 traducido por quien fuera Presidente de la República Argentina, me refiero a Bartolomé Mitre y que sigue siendo una de las mejores hechas en español.
Por último y para esta reseña leí la Commedia en prosa en un hermoso libro que tiene el agregado del prólogo escrito por Stefan Zweig.
Es menester leer La Divina Comedia junto con el Fausto de Goethe y El Paraíso Perdido de Milton, cuando de clásicos de esta naturaleza se habla.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
January 21, 2023
I started leafing through this at the bookshop round the corner, and by the time I'd got to the third page of the introduction I was intrigued. Clive James gave an insightful analysis of the Divine Comedy's poetic structure and explained, better than anyone I'd seen try this before, just how ridiculously difficult it is to produce an English-language translation that has some meaningful relationship to the original text. Everything is difficult, needless to say, but the very worst thing is the rhyme scheme.

A prose translation is flat, and large parts of the second and third books turn into boring theology; in the original, they are sublimely beautiful, and the poem gets more and more beautiful as Dante draws closer to God. Also, Dante's poetry is propulsive, carrying the action forward at a rapid pace. But it turns out, unfortunately, that you can't do terza rima in English, the language just doesn't support that verse form. James thought about it for decades, and in the end had an idea: maybe quatrains would do the job? He experimented and decided the answer was yes. I flipped forward to Canto I and found these gorgeous lines:
At the mid-point of my path through life, I found
Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way
Ahead was blotted out. The keening sound
I still make shows how hard it is to say
How harsh and bitter that place felt to me -
Merely to think of it renews the fear -
So bad that death by only a degree
Could possibly be worse. As you shall hear
It led to good things too, eventually,
But then and there I saw no sign of those,
And can't say even now how I had come
To be there, stunned and following my nose
Away from the straight path.
I was sold: James definitely had something. I paid my $20, took it home, and carried on reading.

I had previously only read the tepid Dorothy Sayers translation, some of the Longfellow, and some passages in the original, but my Italian, alas, is still nowhere near good enough to get through the whole thing that way. This was an acceptable substitute, and James was not overselling himself. The language, indeed, was often beautiful. And it really was propulsive: I often read several canti at a stretch, unable to put it down. By the time I reached the third book, where Dante ascends the spheres of heaven in the company of Beatrice, a third aspect became noticeable: it was wonderfully romantic. The adoration Dante feels for his angelic Lady leaps off the page in a way that I totally didn't recall from Sayers. For example (one passage of very many):
And so I am invited and made bold
To ask you of another truth less than
Clear to me, lady. Let me now be told
If ever it can happen that a man
May make it up to you by doing good
For vows he has not kept." She looked at me
With eyes so full of love my powers could
Do nothing to withstand the clarity
That sparkled there within. My vision shook.
I almost fainted, stunned by that one look.
As I progressed, I become more and more certain that the translator was being inspired by his own muse, and I was also sure I could identify her: in the foreword, James was very gracious about the debt he owed to his wife, Prue Shaw, who introduced him to Dante when he was still a student and eventually become an internationally acclaimed Dante scholar. When James described how Dante is dazzled by the radiance of Beatrice's smile, I thought how he was being led on his own journey by his own celestial guide. It was really quite inspiring.

I mentioned some of my theories to Not, who scornfully told me that, as any Australian knew, Prue Shaw had unceremoniously dumped her husband in 2012 when she found he'd been deceiving her for years with a much younger woman. Maybe James had had a heavenly muse, but it was less than clear who she was. It was quite conceivable that he in fact had had two muses.

Damn. Why can't life ever be as beautiful and simple as you'd like it to be? But however it was produced, I still give an unhesitating thumbs up to James's translation. If you can't read five hundred pages of medieval Italian, this is the next best thing.
[And the next day...]

Over lunch, it occurred to me to wonder whether Leanne Edelsten was in fact Clive James's anti-muse, helping him express that sense of pervasive guilt so central to Dante. Not's explanation was simpler: she thought that James, like most male writers, was a total shit.

I said that my interpretation in no way disagreed with hers, it was just more nuanced. But I am unsure whether Not found this convincing.
Profile Image for Carlos.
99 reviews83 followers
August 10, 2021
Aclaro algo: no soy religioso, ni intelectual ni estudioso de los dioses o lo que pasa antes o después de la vida y la muerte. Leí el libro y lo encontré muy bueno.
Leí la obra en un solo libro, pero no sabía que estaba dividido en 3 partes. Al parecer, Infierno es la obra más conocida, y no es para menos, pero vale la pena leer todo.
Mi cabeza voló y voló con tanta información e imaginación en mi cabeza, el camino en el purgatorio, una vez estando en este, etc. Un viaje maravilloso y un libro muy denso para leer.
No me sorprende la importancia que tenga Dante ahora después de haber escrito tamaña obra.
¿Recomendable? Hay que ser abierto de mente para leerlo, no hay que ser ni fanático religioso ni fanático ateo. Un poco de mente amplia y objetiva, y les aseguro que disfrutarán muchísimo esta lectura. Son de esas que hacen bien para el ejercicio de la mente.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,646 followers
March 8, 2016
Plumbing the crucible of happenstance.

I should give a quick intro and say that I rarely EVER, EVER re-read a book. I should also mention that 3 years ago I had never cracked Dante's Divine Comedy. Now, I am finishing the Divine Comedy for the 3rd time. I've read Pinsky's translation of the Inferno. I've read Ciardi. I've flirted with Mandelbaum and danced with Hollander, but from Canto 1 of Inferno/Hell to Canto XXXIII of Paradiso/Heaven, I can't say I've read a better version than the Clive James translation. He replaced the terza rima (**A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D-E-E** a measure hard to write without poetic stretch marks in English) with the quatrain, and in doing so made the English translation his own. It gives the Divine Comedy the verbal energy and the poetry that makes inferior translations a slog and makes Dante so damn difficult to translate well. A mediocre translation might capture the stripes but lose the tiger. Clive James pulled off a master translation of one of the greatest works of art in any medium -- ever.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,064 reviews2,892 followers
January 2, 2022
The Divine Comedy is a 14,233 lines-long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the pre-eminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature. I've wanted to read it for a long time but had, thus far, been too daunted to actually take up the task.

The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God, beginning with the recognition and rejection of sin, followed by the penitent Christian life, and ultimately leads to the soul's ascent to God.

The three cantiche of the ComedyInferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso – each consist of 33 canti. In addition, there's an initial canto, serving as an introduction to the poem and generally considered to be part of the first cantica, which brings the total number of canti to 100.

The structure of the three realms follows a common numerical pattern of 9 plus 1, for a total of 10: 9 circles of Hell, followed by Lucifer contained at its bottom; 9 terraces of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden crowning its summit; and the 9 celestial spheres of Heaven, followed by the Empyrean containing the very essence of God.

Within each group of 9, seven elements correspond to a specific moral scheme, subdivided into three subcategories, while two others of greater particularity are added to total nine. For example, the seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church that are cleansed in Purgatory are joined by special realms for the late repentant and the excommunicated by the church. The core seven sins within Purgatory correspond to a moral scheme of love perverted, subdivided into three groups corresponding to excessive love (Lust, Gluttony, Greed), deficient love (Sloth), and malicious love (Wrath, Envy, Pride).

The last word in each of the three cantiche is stelle ("stars").

In central Italy's political struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines, Dante was part of the Guelphs, who in general favored the Papacy over the Holy Roman Emperor. Florence's Guelphs split into factions around 1300 – the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs. Dante was among the White Guelphs who were exiled in 1302 by the Lord-Mayor Cante de' Gabrielli di Gubbio, after troops under Charles of Valois entered the city, at the request of Pope Boniface VIII, who supported the Black Guelphs. This exile, which lasted the rest of Dante's life, shows its influence in many parts of the Comedy, from prophecies of Dante's exile to Dante's views of politics, to the eternal damnation of some of his opponents.

"Inferno"2,5 stars
The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in 1300. Dante is 35 years old, half of the biblical lifespan of 70, lost in a dark wood (understood as sin), assailed by beasts (a lion, a leopard, and a she-wolf) he cannot evade and is unable to find the "straight way". Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in Hell is a contrapasso, a symbolic instance of poetic justice by which each punishment matches its sin.

"Purgatorio" - 5 stars
Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom to the Mountain of Purgatory. The Mountain is on an island and was created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell. The classification of sin here is drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. However, Dante's illustrative examples of sin and virtue draw on classical sources as well as on the Bible and on contemporary events.

"Paradiso" - 2 stars
After an initial ascension from the Garden of Eden, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven. These are concentric and spherical, as in Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmology. While the structures of Inferno and Purgatorio were based on different classifications of sin, the structure of Paradiso is based on the four cardinal and the three theological virtues.
Profile Image for أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed.
351 reviews1,977 followers
July 31, 2015
الكوميديا المقدسة، إحدى أعظم نتاجات الأدب الإيطالي والأوروبي عامة، والتدشين الأكمل والأكثر تعقيداً وروعةً للمزيج الذي صبغ أوروبا في كل صحواتها من سبات التاريخ، منذ قسطنطين إلى عصر النهضة وحتى الراهن، مزيج الميثولوجيا اليونانية واللاهوت المسيحي.
هذه الكوميديا موسوعة معارف وملحمة شعرية ولهيب رائع لوجدان نادر.

قرأتها -على مراحل متباعدة- بترجمة السوري حنا عبود، لا عن قصد مسبق وإنما حصل لي الكتاب صدفةً، وهي ترجمة رشيقة ومنسابة بحكم انحياز حنا عبود -كما أعلن في المقدمة- للسرد والتصاعد الدرامي للكوميديا على حساب الشعري والمجاز الملحمي.
وهي الترجمة الثانية -تاريخاً- بعد ترجمة المصري حسن عثمان، والعراقي كاظم جهاد، وثلاثتها ترجمات ثمينة، ولكلّ ميزتها، وإن كان الاحتفاء الأكبر حظيت به الأخيرة.

وبين الجحيم والمطهر والفردوس، يجمع قراء الكوميديا ونقادها على أن الجحيم أجمل أجزائها وأكثفها بالدفق الوجداني واللهيب الشعري العالي.

في قاع الجحيم يُرمى أعظم العصاة الخاطئين, وأشنعهم عذاباً في مملكة الألم الأبدية, وفي هذا القعر لا ترى اللهب وإنما بحيرة الزمهرير كما يصفه دانتي, هناك يرمى الخونة, لأنهم فقدوا في حياتهم العاطفة, تخلّوا عن الدفء, فكان عذابهم لا لهيب النار وإنما برد الزمهرير الذي يشبه أرواحهم. بين تلك الأجساد التي اقتحمت الشياطين أرواحها, مغرقة في الجليد حتى الأفئدة, بينما أبقي أعلاهم مشرعاً لليباب, بوجوه محنّطة بالصقيع, جُمّد فيها مسار الدمع من المآقي, حتى يبقى الألم هناك, ��ي الجوف الذي لا قعر له,في الداخل المعتم المكتظّ بالألم والوحشة. يتضرّع أحدهم لدانتي أن يمسح خيط الجليد ليمكنه أن يتحرر وينعتق بالبكاء, ليستردّ روحه بالدموع, ولو محض ثانية قبل أن تردّه الإرادة العليا جليداً, ولكن دانتي يتركه ويمضي. كان أقسى عذاب في مملكة الألم ألا يستطيعوا البكاء, ألا يكون لهم دموع.

في ضريح رمزيّ لشاعر إيطاليا الأعظم دانتي اليغييري , في مدينته فلورنسا, التي نفتْه في الخلافات السياسية التي اصطلت بها , و رفضت حكومتها -و كنيستها- أن يعود إليها إلّا بعد أن يكتب رسالة اعتذار و يمشي حافياً ذليلاً على مطلع من الناس كعلامة على الندم, رفض دانتي ذلك طبعاً حتى مات بعيداً عنها في المنفى في طريق سفر التهمته فيه الملاريا, قبل أن يكتشف الأوروبيون عبقريته بعد وفاته بعقود من خلال الكوميديا الإلهية, الأثر الأدبي الكلاسيكي الأعظم لأوروبا ما قبل النهضة. في هذا الضريح , تجد تمثالاً لفتاة تحني ظهرها و تبكي على القبر الرمزيّ للشاعر العظيم ...أبو اللغة الإيطالية كما سمّوه , هذه الفتاة هي فلورنسا ,في علامة على ندمها على ما صنعتْه لدانتي , و كأنّها تطلب الصفح منه . كثير من هذه المدن تحتاج فقط أن تعود -كما كانت- فتاةً ... و تبكي على أبنائها و عشاقها الكثيرين الذين ملؤوا المدافن و المنافي و العتمات.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
1,995 reviews3,967 followers
Shelved as 'sampled'
August 4, 2012
I propose an extra level in the Inferno for procrastinators and abandoners. I was planning to write a novel where three protagonists commit suicide and end up in Scottish Hell. Since overcrowding has plagued the old Scottish Hell HQ, the protagonists are forced to queue up for weeks on end before arriving at the building for processing. Upon their arrival, their sins are assessed by an administrator to determine which circle of Hell is appropriate for them. But due to cutbacks and financial instabilities, the three suicides are deemed unfit for service in Hell and are returned to their bodies. Back on Earth, the three characters return to their miserable lives, which they want to leave immediately. But before they commit suicide again, they have to break free from their mousy personalities and commit sins grievous enough to secure them a decent place in Hell. As the characters commit petty thefts and minor infelicities, the sin requirements to Hell become tougher and tougher, and they are repeatedly returned to their bodies. They spend their lives building up to larger and larger sins, constantly being returned to their bodies as the world around them becomes increasingly more depraved and violent. When they die, because the notion of “sin” has been completely reclassified to mean the most vile, sickest violations, they are secured a place Heaven for their relatively minor embezzlements, murders and rapes. I started this book but lost impetus halfway through. I was convinced this idea was derivative of other works (the Hell-as-bureaucracy has certainly popped up in British satire) and lost heart. I also lost heart halfway through the Inferno section of this, despite the translation being very fluent and readable. So I am going to the tenth circle, for the procrastinating bolter. (I did read the graphic novel version: partial redemption?)
Profile Image for Wendy.
539 reviews148 followers
May 9, 2015
I finished it! Someone, bring me my medal...

the Inferno is Hieronymus Bosch with words
the Inferno is Hieronymus Bosch with words

A few caveats to this review: I am not a theologian, philosopher, medieval historian, Dante expert, nor astrologist. I am, however, a reader who wants to read "all of teh books" and I appreciate vivid imagery and interesting human interactions in fiction. I tackled the recent Clive James version of Dante's Divine Comedy--no footnotes or canto introductions here--because I just wanted to let the story wash over me, to see how much I could "get" on my own without knowing why Dante's father's baker's frenemy's ex-lover's dog-handler was sitting upside-down in the burning pitch in Hell. And when it comes to vivid imagery, the Inferno delivers. Surprisingly (to me), the Purgatorio was also fairly easy to follow, as Dante and Virgil continue up a ceaseless barren slope past the singing, self-flagellating sinners who do their time for various sins and, each time an angel wipes an ash-mark from their foreheads, become one level closer to heaven.

From reading the inferno in high school I had recalled Dante as a sniveling, swooning sissy--but on this re-read found myself very much liking his sensitivity and sense of empathy, especially to many of the sinners in hell (well, as long as they are classical figures. If he knows them, he's more likely to go stomp on their heads). Guide Virgil has to chastise him numerous times to keep him from getting (understandably) emotionally mired in the horrors he witnesses. My favorite parts, besides perhaps the insult-throwing trident-wielding demons, were the back-and-forths between Dante and Virgil.

Sadly, though, Virgil is barred from entering heaven, and in the third book Paradiso we are stuck with the so-nauseatingly-lovely-and-perfect-that-you-just-want-to-smack-her Beatrice. Regardless of this new guide, I found Dante's heaven as impenetrable as listening to someone describe an acid-trip. It struck me as a sort of renaissance-era Yellow Submarine (complete with its own Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) though the incessant choral music wasn't quite as catchy.

Dante waves to his Lucy--I mean Beatrice
Lucy in the sky with Dante

Seriously, I'm amazed at how similar this clip from Yellow Submarine is to the Paradiso! Watch it!

*EDIT* Sorry, it looks like the Submarine link keeps breaking, so my apologies if it doesn't work. If I notice a problem, I will fix it! Should be working now, anyway.
Profile Image for Oguz Akturk.
271 reviews407 followers
September 25, 2022
YouTube kanalımda Dante'nin kitaplarından ve İlahi Komedya'nın nasıl okunması gerektiğinden bahsettim:

"Yaşam yolumuzun ortasında
karanlık bir ormanda buldum kendimi,
çünkü doğru yol gitmişti.
Ah, içimdeki korkuyu
tazeleyen, balta girmemiş o sarp, güçlü
ormanı anlatabilmek ne zor!"
(s. 35)


Derken bir ormanda buldum kendimi ben de Dante gibi. Yürüyordum. Belki de Dante'nin ilk kez 9 yaşındayken gördüğü Beatrice'e dediği gibi, ben de kimsenin kimse için yazmamış olduğu şeyleri Goodreads'e yazabilmek için yürüyordum.


O anda beklenmedik bir şey oldu. Karşıma Vergilius'un Aeneas kitabı çıkmıştı. Nasıl olduğunu anlamadım. Bu ormanda, sadece ölülerin bulunduğu bu diyarda bir kitabın ne işi olabilirdi?


Bana şöyle dedi Aeneas: Seni cehennem, araf ve cennetten önceki son durağa götüreceğim Oğuz, gel. Dünyevi zevklerden hiçbirinin anlamının artık kalmadığı bir yere götüreceğim. Senin de ölülerden değil esas dirilerden korktuğunu biliyorum, o yüzden bu yolda senin rehberin olacağım! İlahi Komedya'yı hakkıyla anlayabilmek için benim rehberliğime ihtiyacın var Oğuz...

Vergilius bana bunları derken, ölüler diyarının kapısına geldiğimizde bu kapıda bekçilik yapan üç başlı köpek Kerberos'un yerine teknik yetersizliklerden dolayı üç başlı kedi olan Ketberos'un olduğunu gördük:


Yolumuza devam ettik ve Vergilius beni rahmetli anneannemle dedemin mezarının başına götürdü. Dante ile Vergilius işte tam da bu noktada buluşmuştu. Ölülerin dilinden en iyi anlayan iki adamla birlikte bir mezarın başındayım, belki de hayatın en büyük ve en açık spoiler'ını yiyordum.


İlahi Komedya'ya ölülerin artık konuşamayacağını ve hiçbir ölüden haber alınamadığını söyledim. Bana inanmadı. Hatta o anda bana tam olarak şunları söyledi...

İlahi Komedya: Yanılıyorsun Oğuz, eğer bir çeşit vecd hali ile kendinden geçip ruhunun dünyevi zevklerinden sen de kurtulursan ölüler diyarını sen de ziyaret edebilirsin. Ben öyle yapmadım mı kitabımda, okumadın mı beni? Cehennem, araf ve cennetteki insanların durumunu anlattım. İnsan, dünyada yaptığı ne varsa öldükten sonra da eksiksiz olarak karşılığını alır. Ne ekersen onu biçersin, bu böyledir.

Oğuz: Peki, seni ve ölüler diyarını tam olarak anlayabilmek için hangi kitapları okumam gerekli İlahi Komedya?

İlahi Komedya: https://i.ibb.co/qy1Fxzv/6.jpg
İşte, bu fotoğraf sana yardımcı olacaktır. Dönüşümler 1-15, Aeneas ve şiir kitabım olan Yeni Hayat'ı okursan eminim ki İlahi Komedya'yı çok daha anlayarak okursun. Çünkü benim için hayat, Hristiyanlık'taki teslisler içindeki teslisler bütününden ibarettir. Baba, Oğul, Kutsal Ruh gibi sen de bu 3 kitabı okursan beni daha iyi anlarsın. Çünkü Beatrice ile de ilk olarak 9 yaşında karşılaşmıştım. Bu 9 sayısını da 3'ün karesi ile bağdaştırmıştım. Teslis ve Hz. İsa'nın bizi kurtuluşa götüreceği inancı benim için çok önemlidir Oğuz.

O anda ölüler diyarından şöyle bir uzağa baktım...


Herkes isterdi manzaralı mezarım olsun, sen benim manzarasız mezarımdın demişti Dante de Beatrice'e. Çünkü en derinine gömmüştü onu. Anneannemle dedem de belki şu an aynı yerdeydi, Dante ile Beatrice'in tam da şimdi olduğu gibi.


Peki, bizim gömüleceğimiz yer nerede? Anneanne? Dede? Siz söyleyin bana... Cehenneme mi yoksa cennete mi gideceğim?

Anneannem: ...
Dedem: ...

Yahu Dante, sen kitabında o kadar kişinin cehenneme ya da cennete gideceğine karar vermişsin. Cevap versene bana... Biz nereye gideceğiz? Ölüler diyarından haber yok mu? Bildiklerin sadece İtalya tarihindeki kişiler ile mi kısıtlı? Sadece Caroberto, Cunizza, Lorenzo, Valerius, Mucius, Porsenna, Piccarda, Costanza, Donati, Forese, Corso, Francesco gibi insanların mı öldükten sonra nereye gideceğine karar verebiliyorsun? Nereye gideceğim, söylesene be adam?!


Komedyanın anlamı, cehennem bölümünün ürkütücü olmasına karşılık bu şiirin, komedilerde olduğu gibi mutlu sonla sonuçlanmasından dolayı olduğunu ben de biliyorum. Peki bu inceleme neden bu kitap gibi mutlu bir sonla sonuçlanmıyor? Konuşsana ulan İlahi Komedya!


O anda etrafta ne Vergilius, ne Dante, ne de Beatrice kalmıştı. Oğuz da o an ne olduğunu bilmiyordu. 11 İhlas, 1 Fatiha okumaya gelmişken karşısındaki kitap ona resmen meydan okuyordu. İlahi Komedya o anda çıldırmış bir şekilde üstüne geldi, Oğuz'un gözünün en son görebildiği açıdan sadece "İLAH" kelimesi okunabiliyordu...


Sonra da dünyası çeşitli renklere büründü. O anı anlatmaya kelimeleri yetmedi. Dante'nin de İlahi Komedya'nın sonundaki anı anlatmaya kelimeleri yetmemişti. Hristiyanlık'taki üç dinsel erdem olan sevgi, inanç ve umudun renkleri miydi bunlar? Cehennem, araf ve cennetin renklerinin mi bir temsiliydi yoksa?


Anneanne, dede, lütfen söyleyin. Neden hiçbir ölüden haber gelmiyor? Dante'nin kafasına göre ölüleri cehenneme ve cennete yollaması bana çok garip geliyor, bari siz söyleyin. Siz şu an neredesiniz? Ruhunuzla beraber mi yatıyorsunuz burada? Ruh denen bir şey var mı, yoksa sadece bedenlerimizle mi dirileceğiz? Neden ölüler diyarından hiçbir ses gelmiyor? Hayatımın en büyük spoiler'ını yemeye geldim buraya. Biliyorum, ben de buz gibi bir toprağın içinde gözlerim kapalı bir şekilde yatacağım. Biliyorum, ben de İlahi Komedya'da anlatılan ruhların ektiği şeyleri biçeceğim. Biliyorum, benim de kendi iradem var ve dünyevi zevkler yerine esas kalıcı hayat uğruna çalışmam gerektiğini biliyorum... Peki, şu an neden böyle oldu? Lütfen cevap verin...

Sen şimdi neredesin, ey Vergilius? Bana asıl şimdi cevap ver! Sana asıl şimdi ihtiyacım var rehberim ey Vergilius! Nerelerdesin ki? Ansızın yok oluverdin! Neredesin, ey cevap veren, neredesin, ey bana ölümü çok gören?

"Cevap versenize!
Niçin susuyorsunuz? Niçin?
Yok mu bir cevap veren?
Kimse cevap vermiyor mu?
Kimse, hiç kimse cevap vermiyor mu?"

Kapıların Dışında
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,140 followers
May 6, 2022
Îți trebuie un curaj nebun ca să propui o recenzie a Divinei comedii. Nu am acest tupeu. De aceea voi aminti că însuși poetul a oferit o cheie de lectură. Nu înainte de a preciza că titlul originar al poemului e Commedia. Adjectivul „divină” a fost adăugat mai tîrziu de unul dintre exegeți, poate de Boccaccio, care a scris și o Viață a lui Dante.

Comentariul poetului se găsește în (probabil) apocrifa Scrisoare a XIII-a, către Can Grande, vicar imperial. În opinia autorului, Divina comedie prezintă într-o formă lirică trecerea sufletului de la o stare nefericită la una fericită, drumul de la infern la paradis, izbînda asupra răului. Itinerariul poetului (şi al cititorului său) se încheie cu bine. Cînd lucrurile sfîrșesc prost e vorba, firește, de o tragedie. Dar Dante a ales să compună o comedie.

Într-o viziune grandioasă, personajul Dante vizitează infernul, purgatoriul şi paradisul. Şi, pentru a nu se rătăci, îl urmează prin tenebre, pînă în pragul paradisului, pe Vergiliu, autorul Bucolicelor şi al Eneidei. Rostul poetului latin este să-l îndrume pe călător prin nişte locuri rele, să-l protejeze, să-i arate ieşirea. Rostul poetului este, în chip analog, acela de a-l îndruma pe cititor să iasă cu bine din labirintul poemului. În acest chip, lectura însăşi devine o comedie divină, un exerciţiu hermeneutic reuşit, o izbîndă. Întreaga abilitate a autorului vizează tocmai împăcarea din final. Dar poetul nu se mulţumeşte cu atît.

El îşi prezintă cu lux de amănunte procedeele retorice, îl invocă pe Cicero cu lucrarea sa De inventione rhetorica, face o trimitere precisă la Retorica lui Aristotel, cartea a III-a, îşi explică metaforele, analogiile, sugestiile, precizează sensurile suprapuse.

Literal, este vorba de „starea sufletelor după moarte”. Alegoric însă, Divina comedie se referă la peripeţiile omului după cădere, la nechibzuita folosire a liberului arbitru, la pedeapsă şi răsplată, la opţiunea dintre bine şi rău, la soluţia oricărei dificultăţi prin iubire, care e opusul păcatului. Stilul terţinelor, face adaos poetul florentin în epistolă, este umil, întrucît a scris în vulgară, pe înţelesul celor mulţi.

Ba chiar şi pe înțelesul gospodinelor, adaugă malițios.

P. S. Scrisoarea a XIII-a este un rezumat şi o parafrază după o lucrare mai veche, Convivio: Banchetul.
Profile Image for Raya راية.
756 reviews1,294 followers
April 5, 2019
"أنتم يا أصحاب العقول الراجحة
استشفّوا العقيدة التي تخفيها
هذه الأشعار الغريبة بمجازاتها."
-الجحيم 9: 61-63

سمعت بـ "الكوميديا الإلهية" منذ أن كنت طالبة في المدرسة، وكانت إحدى الكتب التي نويت قراءتها عندما أكبر. وحين قرأت رواية الجحيم لدان براون أصبحت أريد بشدة قراءتها، وبالفعل اقتنيتها من إحدى معارض الكتب قبل ما يقارب 3 سنوات. ولكن لم يحن موعد قرائتها إلّا هذا العام بعد قراءة رواية الجحيم للمرة الثانية.

كنت متخوّفة من قراءة هذا العمل، ليس فقط لكبر حجمه وإنما لأنه ملحمة شعرية دينية تاريخية من العصور الوسطى. كنت مترددة أيضاً بشأن الترجمة، وهل عساي أفهم أم لا؟! لكن ما إن شرعت بقراءة مقدمة هذه النسخة الصادرة عن دار ورد، بقلم المترجم حنا عبود، حتى شعرت بالاطمئنان.

"تقول دوروثي سايرز في مقدمة الجحيم: إن الطريقة المثلى لقراءة الكوميديا الإلهية هي أن يبدأ القارئ من أول بيت شعر فيها حتى آخر بيت، مأخوذا بقوة السرد وبالحركة الخاطفة للشعر، غير آبه بالتفسيرات التاريخية والشروح المنطقية التي لا تقع أصلا في قلب نص الكوميديا" (ص 9 من طبعة بنغوين 1977)

مقدمة مليئة بالشروحات والتوضيحات، وحتى الأناشيد مترجمة بشكل رائع ومفهوم وواضح، وفي آخرها الكثير من التفاسير والهوامش، وكوني قارئة عادية دفعني الفضول الأدبي والمعرفي لقراءة هذا العمل، ولست متعمقة أو باحثة في هذا المجال، فإني لم أواجه صعوبة تذكر في قراءة الكوميديا، وكل الشكر والفضل في هذا للمترجم الأستاذ حنا عبود.

"ما الوسائل التي يعتمد عليها قارئ الكوميديا؟... إن قارئ الكوميديا لا يحتاج إلى أي شيء سوى الدخول في القراءة مدخلا بريئا، لأن ما في الملاحظات والتعليقات التي تعقب كل نشيد من شروح تكفي القارئ إلى درجة كبيرة وتوفر له المتعة الأدبية والفنية."

قد يقول قائل بأن دانتي استلهم أو سرق أو استوحى أو إلخ عمله هذا من رسالة الغفران لأبي العلاء المعري أو من الإسراء والمعراج أو من أي عمل أدبي آخر، وأنا أقول هنا، بأن كل ذلك لا يقلل من شأن كوميديا دانتي وخياله. اترك عنك عزيزي صاحب المقارنات تلك الاتهامات ومحاولات التبرئة وانطلق مع دانتي في رحلته الفريدة، وحرر عقلك ونفسك ورأيك من أي انطباعات وقيود مسبقة.

"إننا هنا أمام أثر يقدم أعظم مخيلة توصل إليها الجنس البشري."


"ما هذا؟ إني أرى عذابات جديدة
ومعذبين جددا، أينما تحركت
أنتقل من ألم إلى ألم."
-الجحيم 6: 4-6

تنطلق رحلتنا مع دانتي والشاعر الروماني الكبير، فيرجيل، من الغابة المظلمة وحتى آخر دوائر الجحيم. يصف دانتي عذابات من دخلوا الجحيم بسبب معاصيهم خلال حياتهم ويتعرّض إلى تفاصيل التعذيب والآلام التي ستصيبهم بسبب ما اقترفوا من خطايا على مدى 34 نشيداً. أهوال ما بعدها أهوال وعذابات مخيفة في دوائر الجحيم التسع الرهيبة.

كان "الجحيم" أفضل وأقوى وأكثر دهشة من "المطهر" و"الفردوس" بالنسبة لي. ويستحق منفرداً خمسة نجوم كاملة.

"يا عدالة الله، من يستطيع وصف
هذا الألم المرير الذي يجري أمامي؟
لماذا تُنزِل فينا آثامنا مثل هذه الضربات؟"
-الجحيم 7: 19-21


"عظيمة كانت خطاياي، ولكن
لا حدود لرحمة الألوهية التي تبسط
ذراعيها لكل الآتين إليها."
-المطهر 3: 121-123

عندما يخرج دانتي وفيرجيل من الجحيم، يصلا إلى جبل المطهر ويبدأ صعودهما تدريجياً إلى شرفات المطهر، حيث يشاهد دانتي الموتى الذين وهبوا الخلاص وهم يبحثون عن الغفران من الخطايا التي اقترفوها على الأرض. ويملأ جو من الأمان والأمل ذلك المكان الخاص بالتطهر، على عكس المعاناة الكبيرة واليأس اللذين مرا بهما في الجحيم. يقع هذا الجزء في 33 نشيداً يتطهّر بها دانتي من خطاياه، ليستعد دخول الفردوس مع حبيبته بياتريس بعد اختفاء فيرجيل هنا.

أقيّم "المطهر" بـ 3 نجوم.


"رغائبنا لم تعد ترغب في رغبة
إلّا في مسرّة الروح القدس الذي
يبهجه أن نكون حسب أوامره."
-الفردوس 3: 52-53

يصل دانتي مع بياتريس إلى الجنة الأرضية على قمة جبل المطهر، ليبدأ معها رحلة الصعود إلى الفردوس السماوي المكتوبة على مدى 33 نشيداً. حيث تصور دانتي أن الفردوس سلسلة من تسع كرات تدور حول الأرض، وقد ثبت في كل كرة كوكب وعدد كبير من النجوم، كما تثبت الجواهر في التاج. وكلما تحركت هذه الأجرام السماوية، وقد وهبت كلها ذكاءً ربانياً متفاوت الدرجات، أخذت تتغنى ببهجة سعادتها وتسّبح بحمد خالقها، وتغمر السماوات بموسيقى تلك الكرات. ويقول دانتي إن النجوم هي أولياء السموات الصالحون، وأرواح الناجين، ويختلف ارتفاعها عن الأرض باختلاف ما كسبت في عمل صالح في حياتها على ظهر الأرض، وبقدر هذا الارتفاع تكون سعادتها، ويكون قربها من أعلى السموات التي يقوم عليها عرش الله.

لست أدري لماذا لم استمتع بهذا الجزء وشعرت بالملل أثناء قرائته، أقيّمه بنجمتين.

قراءة ماراثونية استمرت لأكثر شهر. وهو بالتأكيد عمل يستحق القراءة.

"هنا استراحت قواي من خيالها المحلّق
لكني شعرت كأن كياني - رغبتي وعقلي
معاً كما لو وضعا في عجلة دوارة

قد غيّره الحب الذي يحرك الشمس وسائر النجوم"
-الفردوس 33: 142-145

Profile Image for Warwick.
809 reviews14.4k followers
March 27, 2021
In Falling Towards England, the second volume of his memoirs, Clive James recalls making an ill-prepared trip to Florence as a young man in order to meet up with a girlfriend. Seeing him deeply frustrated by his inability to speak the language, she made what turned out to be a fateful intervention:

That same night, Françoise sat down beside me with a volume of Dante and construed a few lines of the Inferno to begin showing me how the language worked. Per me si va tra la perduta gente. Through me you go among the lost people. A line that crushed the heart, but in the middle of it you could say tra la. It was music.

He was lucky in his teacher: ‘Françoise’ is James's pseudonym for Prue Shaw, who is now about the most famous Dantista working in English. (For many years she was also his wife, and this book is dedicated to her.) So anyone who has read much of James before will know to what extent this translation of Dante is a life's work for him, and it was indeed the last major work he finished before his death in 2019. I came to it completely fresh, never having read Dante before. As a fan of James's poetry, I wish I could say I loved it more than I did; but the truth is I found it a mixed bag, with some moments of brilliance alongside some moments of awkwardness and bewilderment.

Henry Fuseli, Dante and Virgil on the Ice of Kocythos, 1770s

Apart from his vivid imagery (especially in the Inferno), Dante is revered for the beauty of his poetry. At the risk of stating the obvious, that is a damn hard thing to recreate in another language. James makes the sensible choice to turn Dante's terza rima into rhyming quatrains, which he rightly says are a more natural form for English. But there is sometimes a sense of padding in his verses where you feel that three lines have been expanded into four, especially when interpolations have been used to make his rhyme scheme work. The famous opening runs:

At the mid-point of the path through life, I found
Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way
Ahead was blotted out. The keening sound
I still make shows how hard it is to say
How harsh and bitter that place felt to me…

That curious ‘keening sound’ is not in the Italian at all – and it's a very specific invention to reach for, which does make it seem a bit of a laboured way to make the metre and the rhyme fit.

In terza rima, the middle line of every tercet rhymes with the first and third lines of the subsequent tercet – whose middle line rhymes with the next tercet, and so on in perpetuity. To complete the rhyme, you always have to read one more tercet. This gives the original a propulsive forward motion, which is obvious even if your Italian is as rubbish as mine is. James achieves a similar effect with heavy enjambment (which you can see something of already in that opening), although the drawback here is that it smothers his rhymes almost to the point of snuffing them out. Look at a passage like Adam's speech in the Paradiso:

                       “What was it, the first sin?
What language did I shape and use? These were
Your thoughts, my son. Hear me as I begin
To answer them. The tasting of the tree
Was not, alone, the cause of my exile
For so long. No, we crossed a boundary
Of pride, for that fell serpent had the guile
To say: ‘The day you eat this, you will be
Like Gods.’ ”

It rhymes, but you'd be forgiven for not noticing. If you read through the line breaks the rhymes are elided; if you stress them, in many cases, there is a real danger of losing track of the syntax, which can sometimes be labyrinthine. Yet in fact, it's when James leans into his rhymes that his poetry comes most alive for me, and when it connects most thrillingly with the aesthetics of the original (‘for an Italian poet,’ James comments in his introduction, ‘it's not rhyming that's hard’). I loved Beatrice's descriptions of the divine light in heaven, where the rhyme scheme conveys a due sense of her awe, but tempers it with a Jamesian directness:

                              “Look at how it glows,
The height, the width of the Eternal Good:
So many mirrors where it breaks and goes
On breaking, yet remains the one thing. Could
One and the many show more harmony?
It stuns you, doesn't it? It still stuns me.”

This is at the end of a canto, where James allows himself a rhyming couplet, often to terrific effect: these are frequently the most striking bits of writing. But that distinctive tone comes through in all kinds of unexpected places – there is reference, for instance, to Pompey, whose ‘last grief came to a head. The head was his’. Or felicitously colloquial passages like this, from Hell:

But all those naked souls unhinged by fate
Changed colour when they heard that speech so harsh.
Clicking their bared, chipped teeth in hymns of hate,
They cursed their parents, God, the human race,
The time, the temperature, their place of birth,
Their mother's father's brother's stupid face…

Overall, then, James's verse often helped me connect with Dante, but sometimes felt like it was getting in the way. And there was a lot I wanted to connect with, because this is one of those texts that you ‘know’ in various ways before you get to it, by cultural osmosis. All the chat with Dante is really about the Inferno, and one of the things that surprised me in the Divine Comedy was how little, relatively speaking, I enjoyed the scenes in Hell and how much more, relatively speaking, I found myself interested in Purgatory and Heaven. Hell was less grotesque and fantastic than I had been led to expect, whereas Purgatory deals with much more relatable moral situations and Heaven turns out to be a crazed attempt to describe things that are literally indescribable, like moving beyond time and space.

Henry Fuseli, Dante Observing the Souls of Paolo and Francesca, 1770s

Most of all, I was increasingly awestruck by the sense of having an entire medieval worldview laid out in detail before me. Dante does his best to ground his journey in a solid physical or cosmogonic reality – so the descent to hell is basically rappelling down a tunnel into the earth; purgatory is a climb up several terraces to the Garden of Eden at the top of a mountain; and heaven involves ascending through the seven medieval ‘planets’ to the divine Empyrean beyond. Most of these realms turn out to be peopled by religious or political figures from Florence, of varying levels of obscurity. James tries to soften the blow here by making explicit some references which are usually only explained in footnotes – but I found that I still needed to take in some secondary commentary as I went, checking in fairly regularly with the annotated John Sinclair translation.

Of more lasting interest are Dante's attempts to wrestle with the moral implications of his religious vision. Virgil, famously, is his guide through Hell and Purgatory, but Virgil can't go any further because in the final analysis he is damned for being born too early. Dante loved and respected the Classical writers; but he cannot save them. They're stuck in Limbo – an antechamber of hell – for all eternity. To his credit, Dante does at least struggle with this issue:

                          ‘What good does it do
For some man born in India who's taught
Nothing of Christ by speech or text, and yet
All his desires and deeds, with virtue filled,
In life or speech show nothing to upset
Our human reason. With not one sin willed,
Outside the faith and unbaptized he dies.
Where is the justice that condemns him? Where
Is this man's fault?’

But the answer is staggeringly inadequate: ‘Good is itself, draws from itself all worth: / Whatever meets that mark can do no ill / And must be just.’ In other words, it's fair because it happens, and whatever happens has been willed by God and is therefore fair by definition. To a modern reader, this might well point up the moral inadequacy of medieval Catholicism in particular, and of religion in general. But Dante's inability to comprehend it does feel modern, and he feels modern in other ways too. There is a protoscientific insistence on rational observation and grounded realities here that surprised me, and that feels almost geeky. (Colin Burrow has said that if Dante were alive today, ‘he might be a writer of metaphysical SF, with a beard and high principles, who spends his evenings debugging freeware for Linux’.) ‘Blessedness,’ he is told, ‘comes from the power of sight, / And not of love, which follows.’ First make observations of the world, and religious faith will flow from there.

I particularly enjoyed his linguistic nerdiness. In Paradise, a prominent place is given to Donatus, as the first grammarian, and Dante's first question on meeting Adam is about what language he spoke! One of the most moving things about the whole long poem for me (and for which I had to keep looking back to the original, however little I understood its subtleties) is the fact that Dante chose to write it in Tuscan dialect. A friend wrote to him near the end of his life to say that if he could write it instead in Latin, the university at Bologna would make him a laureate. But Dante had been writing about vernacular languages for years, and was deeply invested in his idea that they could be a vehicle for great literature, however much the avoidance of Latin might restrict his audience. That makes him a hero as far as I'm concerned, and it had a decisive effect on other European writers like Chaucer, who took the lesson to heart.

I found some parts of the Divine Comedy quite hard going, but it lingers. For all the things that bothered me about this translation, it does have me wanting to go back to Dante and triangulate his style through other translators. There is something thrilling about how well it still speaks through time – down the long years of Clive James's life and across the space of seven centuries, and, ultimately, ahead to spans of time well beyond that:

                    and when
A thousand years have passed, which is no more
Than one blink to the universe, what then?
The slowest wheeling stars move one degree
From west to east in every hundred years—
The merest moment of eternity—
And fame we measure by our falling tears,
That flow for just a while, and then run dry.
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
581 reviews381 followers
October 14, 2019
“Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.”

There is no much one can say about this marvelous poem that has not been said before. One of the greatest epic poems to have been written, ever. The book is divided into three books, Inferno, meaning hell; Purgatorio, meaning purgatory; and Paradiso, meaning heaven. My favourite has always been Inferno, but Paradiso is highly underrated, as underrated as this brilliant work can possibly be.

“The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream, and the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream.”


This is a basic view of the world as Dante knew it back in the 14th century, a human’s soul journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven.

This poem mixes religion and science, everything from the most basic Christian Dogma to early Islamic astronomy, with a lot of his political views mixed in. At the time this work was being written, Dante was living in exile, he uses this work as a way to show his enemies and what he thought not only of figures of his time, but of historical figures in general, including Plato, Aesop, Alejandro Magno, Mary as well as legendary people, such as Abel, Diana, and Isaac. If one does not wish to read this simply because it is a long poem, read it for the historical view, so many interesting characters for history buffs. My favourite thing perhaps, was how he used his work to slam the people that harmed him, including Pope Boniface VIII, the man who exiled him. Basically, apart from this being a religious work, and a historical work, it is a big “F-you” to everyone he disagreed with him, or harmed him in any way, those parts were hilarious to me. I have a horrible sense of humour.


Basically, read this poem, there is: Satan, angels, the circles of hell, philosophers in Tartarus, a reference to the Muslim conquest as “Dragon,” “the bird of Jove” attacking a church, a bunch of symbolism for “Reason,” unnecessary invocation of the Muses, Tristan and Isolde, many interesting murderers and a bunch of other cool stuff.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,791 reviews431 followers
November 18, 2022
The Divine Comedy is so divine (I pass the redundancy) that we can bring some of Dante's narration to our day. Without necessarily dividing our moments into stages, we do not even have to die to see the scenes we have passed. Nowadays, humanity, so sordid and unmasked, acts, treating one another personally, as if it had a particular Heaven of false power, knowing it lives in a real Hell. Worse still is not to reach out to the next, pushing them to innumerable Purgatory at once, offering no other choice. The owners of a power gaining millions and millions pretend to have mercy on suffering humanity. They continue with their shenanigans and lies, wanting the humiliated citizen to believe he is in Heaven because they are still alive. These greedy people, whom we know very well, live in an actual and particular Hell in the dispute of who can do more. The poor, suffering workers are already in Purgatory. Until, from time to time, they feed a false hope that one day they will live in the Heaven of the mighty, causing paraphernalia among the many greedy miserable ones who are taking life. Pushing and trampling those who try to pass before them because many are in a hurry and believe they can get out of Purgatory and reach the Infernal Heaven of illusion and social inequality.
Profile Image for James Capp.
5 reviews6 followers
February 26, 2009
I first read this poem four years ago as part of a dare. And by “dare,” I mean a professor listed it on the syllabus and I had to read it and then write papers about it. The next summer, I wanted to read it again on account of the graphic imagery of Inferno and Purgatorio. The punishments/reparations are mindblowing, scary, and beautiful. Everyone should at the very least skim Inferno. Particularly in Inferno, the political references are funny and provocative, and the historical significance of this epic poem is right up there with the Bible and Paradise Lost for me. Paradiso is far more abstract and sappy than the other books.

I re-read all three last Fall because I’ve always felt attached to this work, and I figure you gotta read something at LEAST three times before you say its your favorite book. But yeah, this is my favorite book. It makes me want to learn Italian and read Dante’s Italian (and the whole part about him writing it in Italian instead of Latin pissed off so many people—again, the history of this piece is great). It makes me want to visit Italy. It makes me want to write something worth reading!
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,743 reviews635 followers
September 18, 2016
I must confess that so much was beyond my comprehension; but I think that is the mark of a great work of art...it allows you to take what you can from it from where you are. I was so happy when I finished this book!
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,394 reviews670 followers
February 8, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، «دانته» نویسندهٔ ایتالیایی از آن دسته از مذهبی هایست که نوشته هایش برایِ مذهبی هایی همچون شخصِ خودش جالب میباشد و برای خردگرایان و اندیشمندان، نوشته های «دانته» که از موهوماتِ غیر عقلانی بسیاری تشکیل شده است، هیچگونه گیرایی و جذابیتی ندارد، حتی اگر به چشمِ طنز به این موهومات نگاه کنیم... تنها موردِ قابل توجه در این کتاب، ترجمهٔ بسیار عالی از مردِ خردمند «شجاع الدین شفا» بود.. درود بیکران بر ایشان
‎عزیزانم، در این کتاب نیز شما چیزی جز موهومات و خزعبلاتِ دینی و مذهبی چیزی نمیبینید، وگرنه مطمئن باشید از آن در کتبِ درسی بچه هایِ بیخبر از همه جایِ ایرانی، یاد نمیکردند... هرچه نوشته های موهوم و خرافاتِ مذهبی وجود دارد در کتب درسی فرزندانِ سرزمینمان چپانده شده است
‎در "کمدی الهی" نویسنده یعنی «دانته» نه حاضر است کسانی چون بقراط و جالينوس و ابن سينا و مزدک و زرتشت و دمکریت و صدها اندیشمند و انسانِ بزرگ را در آتش دوزخ و جهنم موهوم و احمقانهٔ مذهبیان بسوزاند و نه می تواند آنها را بخاطر مسيحی نبودنشان در بهشت جای دهد، لذا ناگزير پناهگاهی بنام "لیمبو" برای آنان در دوزخِ موهوم می سازد که این خردمندان هم در جهنم باشند و هم از آتش جهنم در امان باشند
‎خوب عزیزانم، شما انتظار دارید چنین نوشته هایی که برگرفته از عقدهٔ بیخردانهٔ مذهبی و دینی میباشد را با لذت بخوانیم و از آن تعریف و تمجید کنیم!؟ هیچ خردمندی به بهشت و جهنمِ موهومِ ادیانِ گوناگون و بخصوص ادیانِ پوچِ سا��ی اعتقاد ندارد
‎عزیزان و نورِ چشمانم، دقت کنید که تا چه اندازه منطق این ادیان و مذهب های سامی ابلهانه میباشد... یعنی بهشت موهومشان که بیشتر به فاحشه خانه شباهت دارد و صبح تا شب همه بر روی آلتِ یکدیگر ووول میخورند، برای خودشان است.. جهنمشان نیز برای کسانی که به ادیان بند تمبانی و غیر انسانی سامی (یهودیت-مسیحیت-اسلام) اعتقاد ندارد و خردگرا بوده اند... یعنی تکليف همهٔ آنهایی که پيش از ظهور مسیحیت و اسلام، به جهان آمده و از جهان رفته اند چه می شود؟ از پيدايش نخستين انسان ها در روی زمين حدوداً سه ميليون سال و از پيدايش انسان های امروزی 30 تا 35 هزار سال می گذرد. اولين تمد�� ها نيز پنج تا هفت هزار سال پيش شکل گرفته اند، در صورتيکه از آغاز مسيحيت تنها دو هزار سال و از ظهور اسلام تنها هزار و چهارصد سال می گذرد. اگر هيچکدام از آدميانی که پيش از اين دوهزار ساله در روی زمين زيسته اند راهی به بهشت نداشته باشند به چه دليلی، و با چه مجوزی بايد اين راه را نداشته باشند؟ و تازه در ميان آدميان همين دوهزار ساله نيز، آنهائيکه چون بوميان آمريکایی يا استراليایی يا مردم آفريقا اساساً نامی از مسيحيت يا از اسلام نشنيده و با آنها آشنائی نداشته اند چرا بايد تا ابد و تا جهان باقیست، در آتش دوزخ بسوزند يا در بی تکليفی برزخ بسر برند؟
‎این منطق بتِ «اللهِ اکبر» تازیان است!؟ یا گربهٔ سوخته شده در صندوق «یهووه»!!؟ یا منطق خدای عیسی!؟ این چه قانونِ ابلهانه و نابخردانه ای است؟!؟ مذهبی ها و به خصوص عرب پرستان، آنقدر به این موهومات و خزعبلات اعتقاد داشته باشید تا مغزتان از این پوچ تر شود
‎امیدوارم این ریویو برایِ شما خردگرایانِ آگاه، مفید بوده باشه
‎«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,521 followers
January 7, 2016
هو أنا قررت أن الريفيو المبدئي يكون عن دان براون
عارف يعني أيه مؤلف يعترف في أول روايته الأحدث أنه رغب أنه يكتب عن الأبداع في الأدب زي ماأمتعنا في معلوماته الرهيبة عن الفن في رواياته السابقة؟

عارف لما مؤلف يكون هدف روايته -اللي يمكن ليا ملاحظات عنها وانا في ربعها الأول الأن- أنك تقرأ في الأدب الحقيقي؟..ويشجعك للأطلاع علي روائع الأدب زي ماعمل في تحفيزنا للبحث عن روائع الفن

يشجعك للبحث والقراءة , وبالأخص تلك القطعة الأدبية الفريدة عن رحلة دانتي إلي الفردوس عبر الجحيم
قطعة أدبية شعرية تسببت في عودة الكثيرين من الخطاة والمذنبين إلي الكنيسة والأيمان
عارف يعني ايه لما يتسائل أزاي في ناس بيقولو علي نفسهم "مؤلفين" ولم يقرأوا عمل أدبي مستوحي عن اساطير يونانية وقصص دينية يهودية ومسيحية -حتي المعراج في الأسلام أيضا- أشاد بيه فنانين وأدباء وفلاسفة بحق؟
“After listing the vast array of famous composers, artists, and authors who had created works based on Dante’s epic poem, Langdon scanned the crowd. “So tell me, do we have any authors here tonight?” Nearly one-third of the hands went up. Langdon stared out in shock. Wow, either this is the most accomplished audience on earth, or this e-publishing thing is really taking off.”

حتي لو علي سبيل الأطلاع -لا أقول الأيمان المطلق بالطبع- كيف لم أقرأ حتي الأن مثل تلك التي يطلق عليها البعض "تحفة أدبية"؟

مبدئيا ترجمة حنا يعقوب -مترجم النسخة التي اقرأها - مختصر المعلومات والهوامش لأبسط حد بحيث انه يتيح لك متعة قراءة النص نفسه وفهم فكرته وروحه

إلي رحلتي إلي فردوس دانتي...فلأبدأ بجحيمه
في نفس وقت قراءتي للرائع, دان براون

الريفيو الكامل عند الأنتهاء ان شاء الله
Profile Image for Leo.
4,176 reviews366 followers
January 24, 2022
This took me 16 days to finish definitely the longest time I've spent on a book by far. I've been wanting to read this for a long time and I'm glad I've picked up a physical copy up from the library because geez was it a struggle to get through. A very rewarding one but still took a lot of patience, which I usually don't posses. I'm very happy and proud I've finished it but doubt I got the whole picture but still a good classic.
Profile Image for Fahima Jaffar.
110 reviews355 followers
December 4, 2013
أرجأتُ الشروعَ في قراءةِ هذا السِفر المذهلِ طويلاً. كعادتي/كعادتنا كنتُ ألتمسُ لهذا التكاسل المتطاولِ عذراً .. أملاً في اقتناصِ فرصةٍ مناسبةٍ أو مزاجٍ رائقٍ أو صباحٍ ماطرٍ أو أمسيةٍ شاعِرة. وَلم أدركَ أن أعذاراً كهذه لا تليقِ بغيرِ الأعمال العابرة الصغيرة.. تلكَ التي نجترُّ أحداثها بتململِ قطّةٍ متطلَّبة. أمّا إنجازٌ كـ"الكوميديا" لا تملكُ عندهُ إلا أن تنفكَّ قهراً من عوالمك الرتيبة لتقعَ في ثراءِ عوالمه الآسرةِ وكثافتها وتباينها المدهشين. سيهبط بكَ دانتي من غفلةِ "اليمابيسِ" إلى منازلِ الجحيم.. وَمروراً بعتباتِ المطهرِ يعرجُ بروحكَ إلى مراتبِ الفردوسِ سماءً سماءَ.. وَأنشودةً أنشودة، ترنيمةً كانت أم تضرّعاً، ابتهالَ متطهّرٍ أم تسبيحَ قدّيسٍ أم شهقةَ ملعون.. ستُصغي فسمعكَ اليومَ "حديد".

"عملٌ يكثّفُ لحظةً مفصليّةً من تاريخ إيطاليا وَالعالم، ومن صراع الكنيسة والدولة، والعقل والإيمان، وَالشرق والغرب، كما يبلور تجربةً شخصية ندر أن عرفنا ما يضارعها في الشجاعة والعمق ومواصلة المغامرة الروحية والشعرية حتى أقصاها" ص. 15

كوميديا دانتي الإلهية تتجاوز الكوميديا بما هيَ خِفّةٌ وَدُنوَّ شأن، فإن صنَّفَ ابن فلورنسةَ منحوتته الفريدة – التي استغرقته ما يقارب الثلاثة عشر عاماً – بمقاييسَ أرسطيّةَ لعاميّةِ لغته أو لمختتمِ متنه، لا يغيبُ عن أيِّ قارئ أن ما بينَ يديهِ رحلةٌ مضنيةٌ أشبه بتسلِّقِ جبال الأولمب للُقيا الآلهة أو بامتطاءِ البحرِ في مغامرةٍ عوليسية. دانتي لم يخلق الإيطالية بحبرِ ريشتهِ فحسب، بل أعادَ نضدَ العوالمِ الأرضية والأخرويةِ، وَأيقظَ حواسَّها على جواهرِ السمعِ وَالبصر. جعلَ دانتي من حُبِّهِ لـ"بياتريشي" مأثرةً كونيّةً استدعى لها أرواحَاً وثنيةً ومسيحيّة – من فيرجيليو حتّى توما الإكويني -، وَبرأَ ظواهرَ فيزيائيةً وَأسطورية، وَسخّرَ زمانَ الرومانيةِ - قبل المسيحِ وَبعده على حدٍّ سواء – ليمجِّدَ هذا المُنجَزَ العظيمَ وَيختطَّ لمبدعهِ مقاماً أعظم.

"إن ابن فلورنسة يعمد إلى قراءة مجهرية لأدنى تفاصيل تجربته في أبعادها الذاتية والتاريخية، الواقعية والخيالية. من هنا قيل عن عمله إنه أكبر تظاهرةٍ فنيةٍ للذاكرة. تُقبل المعطيات إليه وتسعفها على الفور بنْيات لغةٍ ناشئة أضاف لها هو الكثير فيما يكتب، مثلما قيل إن قوافي اللغة الإيطالية كانت تأتي إليه راكضة وتروح تتوالد تحت بنانه." ص. 122

أمَّا الجهدُ الذي بذله المبدع "كاظم جهاد" ليُخرِجَ للعربية مَتناً بهذه القوّةِ وذا التماسك، فحريٌّ بأن نرفَعَ له العمائمَ وَالقُبَّعات. المترجمُ لم يكتفِ بحدودِ الأصلِ، بل جَهُدَ ليطّلعَ على مختلف الترجماتِ سواءً الصادر منها باللغة العربيّة أو بما كان في متناول معرفته من اللغات الأخرى. كما أمدَّ ترجمتهُ بحواشيَ مستفيضةٍ تخدمُ النصَّ شروحاً وَتعليقاتٍ وَنقدا، وَأوجزَ في مدخله النقدي أهمَّ القراءاتِ التي تناول�� "الكوميديا الإلهية".. على رأسِها قراءات بورخيس وَجاكلين ريسيه (الشاعرة الفرنسيّة التي استعان جهاد بترجمتِها كثيراً في عمله هذا). هذا المدخل الذي أجَّلتُ المُضيَّ فيه شغَفاً بالمتن، غير إني ما إن فرغت منه حتى وجدتني بأمسِّ الحاجةِ لقراءةٍ ثانيةٍ للكوميديا، ذلكَ أنَّ موجزَ القراءاتِ النقدية يُضئ جوانبَ في النصِّ يغفلُ عنها القارئ البسيطُ العابرُ – مثلي – إلى تخومِ المعنى، كما يعيدُ تعريفَ تجربتنا القرائية وَيوسِّعَ مداها.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,691 reviews628 followers
July 20, 2018
I am back reading another version of The Divine Comedy. This translation by Australian poet Clive James is the most lyrical that I have read. It is as if I was reading it for the first time and with all that joy of discovery.

This review is based on the first book of this trilogy.

"Had I the bitter, grating rhymes to fit
This grim hole on which all the other rocks
Bear down, I’d do a better job of it
When pressing out my thought’s sap.
But what blocks
The flow is just that:
my soft, childish tongue.
It is with fear that I begin to speak,
Because a language we employ when young
To call our mother “mummy” is too weak
To use, even in sport, when touching on
The lowest level of the universe..."

"And though my frozen face
Felt nothing, like a callus, still somehow
I felt the wind, and more than just a trace.
“Master,” I said, “What causes this?
I thought All heat down here was quenched.”
And he to me: “Your eyes will soon be able to report
Directly, for the cause you’ll plainly see
That drives the blast.” And from his frozen crust
One of the wretches cried: “O souls so cruel
You roam free in the last pit of despair,
Lift off my brittle veils and break the rule,
That I might just a little give release
To the sadness that swells my heart, before
My tears freeze up again. So they will cease…"
354 reviews121 followers
February 12, 2016
This is one of the best epic poems ever! I highly recommend everyone reads this, Homer's works, and Virgil's works. This was a great translation and a wonder forward and glossery.
5 huge stars!
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Profile Image for Katia N.
568 reviews617 followers
January 15, 2020
I wanted to read “Divine Comedy” for quite a while, but was not sure how to approach it. My main problem was that it is written in verses and I do not know Italian to read it in original. At the end, I’ve picked up a classic middle of the 20th century translation into Russian in tercinas verse as well. And, I think I’ve made a good choice. After a while, I got used to the pace and the music and the poetry had become palpable. But I only could imagine how amazing it is to read it in in original.

Reading was not an easy work as I needed to flip to the notes at least a few times per page. But i got used to it and, at the end, the notes have started to act as as second meta- narrative. I would re-read all the notes related to a chapter before reading the chapter. It helped a lot to enjoy the verses and follow the story.

It seems that modern readers often prefer “The Inferno”. I liked it as well. Especially, I enjoyed the architecture of it - downward spiral. And of course, the stories. Francesca and Paolo were the big highlight. I repeat after Borges’s that Dante seemed to be a bit envious of their attachment to each other, that they could be together for eternity if only in Inferno. While his intimacy with Beatrice was possible only through divine love.

My modern sensibilities did not appreciate Dante’s treatment of the Prophet Muhammed, though I understand perfectly the historical context. He seems to be treated especially unfairly considering the hypothesis the Dante’s Paradiso is in many ways similar to the Isra and Mi'raj or night journey of Muhammad to heaven (According to Wiki and then initially raised in Miguel Asia Palacios. L’Eschatologle musulmane dans la Divine Comedie suiul de Histoire et critique d’une polemique. — Traduit de I’espagnol par B. Durant. — Arche Edidit,1992). But I guess, one could forget the man of his time.

The amount of historical details and Dante’s knowledge is totally striking. I did not know much about Italy in the 14th century. And after reading it, I think i have a good impression how people thought at that time. The Inferno Journey was not scary for me. It was like the journey of discovery. And Virgil was a great guide.

Moving on to Purgatory and Paradiso, I was not very much impressed by Beatrice as a guide, after Virgil. She seemed to be somewhat detached. And Dante’s dismay is palpable when she finally takes her place in Heaven (even if the feeling for her is replaced by the feeling of the divine love). But I absolutely admired the architecture of the both places he created. Specifically, I want to talk a bit about the role of mirrors and reflections. Now, for me Dante’s Paradiso will always be associated with the infinite reflections when everything is reflected and multiplied in the image of each other.

Apparently, Dante mentions mirrors at least 30 times in the poem. The role of a mirror is to reflect light. He uses mirror as an allegory for the angels who do not need the language as they reflect God. He mentions it first in Chapter XV of Purgatory:

Come quando da l’acqua o da lo specchio
salta lo raggio a l’opposita parte
salendo su per lo modo parecchio

a quel che scende, e tanto si diparte
dal cader de la pietra in igual tratta,
sì come mostraesperïenza e arte;

così mi parve da luce rifratta
quivi dinanzi a me esser percosso;
per che a fuggir la mia vista fu ratta.

[13, XV: 16–24]

He compares here the appearance of the angel to the reflection of the light from the mirror. And, in the process, he elegantly repeats the scientific law of light’s reflection.

The power of God is compared by Beatrice to the power creating many mirrors, reflecting in all them, while keeping unity:

Vedi l’eccelso omai e la larghezza de l’etterno valor, poscia che tanti speculi fatti s’ha in che si spezza,
uno manendo in sé come davanti.

In the final chapters of Paradiso, when he loses the ability to speak, he almost become a mirror himself focusing on reflecting the divine love. Although, Borges seemed to think that it indicates that Dante is simply asleep and dreaming of it all.

And I finish with the quote from an article I’ve read in Russian (since than, I’ve lost it so I cannot site it properly at the moment):

“We can suggest that the whole text of the poem was created like a huge “mirror” which reflected all intentions, all impressions learned by Dante-character in the process of his life and journey in the poem. All phenomena made by the Creator and multiplied by the love of the Poet are getting communicated to the past and future readers, like the light reflected in the universe of the Divine Comedy.”

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