Friday, October 11, 2013

The Inferno

by Dante Alighieri, translated by John Ciardi

Back in the ancient 80s, two of the comic book series that I was following featured stories based on Dante's Inferno. I forget now if I went and sought out the book after reading those issues, or if I just happened to notice it at the bookstore. Either way, those comics led me to purchase this, the first third of Dante's Divine Comedy. I read through it and, as was typical in those days, didn't get it. I found it somewhat interesting, however, and, because it was classic literature, kept it on my shelf over the years. I had a murky thought that I should also read the other two parts of the Comedy, but never got around to it.

Fast forward about thirty years to this Fall. Whilst browsing at the Friends of the Library sale, I came across all three volumes of the Divine Comedy, the same paperback edition that I bought all those years ago. I snatched up the two that I was missing and later sat down to read Dante's work in its entirety.

What can I say? Guided by Mr. Ciardi's copious notes, I dug down into The Inferno. I liked Dante's imaginative description of Hell--all the images that inspired the derivative comic book adventures. But this time around I much more enjoyed the spirituality and historical context that infuses the text. A part of me marveled at how much those comic book writers left behind when they mined The Inferno for their tales. I am so glad that I hung onto this book, and hope that it won't sit unread for another thirty years.

LibraryThing link

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