Ari's Reviews > The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation

The Inferno of Dante by Dante Alighieri
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's review
Oct 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: must-read-for-school, read-in-2011

Definitely a book I will need to go back and read when I'm not rushing to finish it for a class. Something that tickled me while I was reading this book was that I had just finished studying Dante's time period/location (Italy in the 1300s) in my Modern European History class and we had also discussed his time period in my religion class. CONNECTIONS! haha. I despise annotating but for me this would have been a good book to annotate, unfortunately I got it from the library. Since I missed most of the deeper meanings of this book, I'll review it from a superficial level.

The notes at the end for each Canto are exceedingly helpful and the history-geek in me lapped up all the historical details. Dante actually made me laugh out loud at his audacity, he wasn't afraid to call out his enemies and place them in Hell. I imagine the people who read this while Dante was alive were both shocked and tickled, the gossip would have been rampanant. I also thought Dante's arrangmenet of the circles of Hell were interesting, definitely don't agree with him but I really want to know how he came up with them. I doubt that the Catholic Church said "Falsfiers" were in the deepest ring of Hell but I can't say for certain. Furthermore I was enthralled by Dante's decision to cast people born before Jesus came to Earth, into Hell (i.e. Virgil, Moses, etc). HARSH. And then when you consider the punishments. *shudders* Dante represents the common image of God at the time (I think) a God who was fierce and scary and demanded perfection.

I liked the mixing of real people, Biblical characters and mythological figures that Dante sprinkles throughout the story. Also I wonder if Dante choose which sins were worst based on his own feelings of guilt? He is guilty of many sins, but the further he descends into Hell the closer the sins seem to hit home. The book opens with Dante describing himself at his lowest point, I would even venture a guess that he's suicidal. But the thought of Beatric keeps him going, Beatrice who embodies love, hope, perfection.

It was also reassuring to see that even in a tale as old as this one, the ending of a triology is still extremely anti-climatic, solely to suck you into reading the next book ;) Which I will. Someday.

IQ "And then, like one who unchooses his own choice/And thinking again undoes what he has started, So I became: a nullifying unease/overcame my soul on that dark slope and voided/the undertaking I had so quickly embraced/"If I understand, the generous shade retorted, "cowardice grips your spirit-which can twist/A man away from the noblest enterprise" pg.13 Canto II lines 31-38 This quote resonanted with me because I could relate especially to the first part. I can be fairly indecisive and while that's something I want to work on, it will take time. I often 'unchoose my own choice' so to speak
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