"Abandon all hope you who enter here." ("Lasciate ogne speranza voi ch’intrate.") Dante’s Hell is one of the most remarkable visions in Western literature. An allegory for his and future ages, it is, at the same time, an account of terrifying realism. Passing under a lintel emblazoned with these frightening words, the poet is led down into the depths by Virgil and shown those doomed to suffer eternal torment for vices exhibited and sins committed on earth.
Inferno is the first part of the long journey which continues through redemption to revelation - through Purgatory and Paradise - and, in this translation, prepared especially for the audiobook, his images are as vivid as when the poem was first written in the early years of the 14th century.
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"Actor and writer Heathcote Williams gives a masterful performance of Benedict Flynn's blank verse translation. Williams modulates his smooth baritone into different characters, maintaining an even pace through this classic work. The cantos are punctuated by short selections of music ranging from Gregorian chant to Renaissance dance music.... A plaintive horn sounds the beginning of Inferno, the beginning of Dante's journey from The Gloomy Wood to the Circles of Hell. Dante begins alone in a fog of seeking and confusion until he encounters the shade of Virgil. When the poets begin the descent at the beginning of Canto Three, Williams's booming voice is technologically enhanced to create an echo for the famous line, "Abandon all hope, you who enter here." (AudioFile)
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Enjoyable, entertaining and educational
- John Horncastle
Almost a perfect translation
Dante's Divine Comedy is the keystone of European literature. It was the first important work composed in a modern language, and it is a book that almost every serious writer has read and been influenced by.
If you want to understand poetry, or drama, or novels, or film, or opera - you need to read Dante at some stage (and the younger you first read him, the better).
If all you ever read is till receipts, you can probably get along without him.
Francesca da Rimini and Ugolino are the two moments everybody remembers. Me too.
There are some very odd translations of The Divine Comedy into English. Dorothy Sayers writes like nobody ever spoke, while Longfellow manages to be as obscure as he is inaccurate.
Flynn has translated Dante into natural idiomatic English, which leaves the poetry to stand naked. Heathcote Williams delivery is nuanced but not lapel-tugging:- a perfect complement to Flynn's understated excellence.
I'm always tickle by how when Vergil arrives at the gate to Purgatory, he wanders off into a private conversation with Cato (ignoring Dante completely for half the canto).
It's always fun when the characters cut free of the book, but this is one of the most amusing examples of that.