This was my first reading of Inferno, having heard much ado about Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy. I was impressed, though no theological conversion took place. I chose, on recommendation, Allen Mandelbaum’s English translation from Italian, and I believe that recommendation was well advised.
It struck me that the language might have been considered risky and rebellious in the 11th century, and yet was more than adequate to convey the horrors of Hell in the 21st century. Though my lack of knowledge and experience with Italian, Greek and Roman ancient history meant that I did not understand every reference to every real world villain. It did seem oddly self serving that Dante should meet so many familiar personalities in Hell, considering the sheer number of tortured souls who’s path he crossed.
Either way, I greatly enjoyed the Comedy and would recommend this version to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the poet and his poetry. I look forward to readings of Purgatorio and Paradisio both, and I’m hoping to find Mandelbaum’s translations in each case.
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