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The Divine Comedy: Hell, Purgatory, Heaven
Translated by Peter Dale
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (448 pages)
(Pub. Dec 1996)
Out of Stock
from Hell: Canto 1
Good Friday, 1300; Dante, thirty-five years old, finds himself lost in a dark wood, wondering how he strayed from the straight way. He spends a fearful night. Dawn lights on a hill toward which he heads, encouraged by the sun’s light. He finds his way barred by various wild animals: the leopard of lust, the lion of pride, the she-wolf of avarice. Retreating, he is met by the spirit of Vergil who explains that there is no way past the she-wolf – though one is destined to come to drive her back to Hell. He offers to conduct Dante another way to safety through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Dante agrees to go.
Along the journey of our life half way,
Dante’s masterpiece is a foundation stone of European poetry. It was a profound influence on T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, and in our own day has inspired Seamus Heaney. It is simple in style yet complex in its layers of meaning, episodic in manner yet architectonic in its over-arching vision. It is simultaneously a journey through life and a spiritual biography, a portrait of the internecine Italy of Dante’s time and a pilgrim’s progress through the tripartite afterworld of Catholic mythology. Paradoxically, it is also a devotional work and one of the strangest love poems ever written. It is without doubt one of the supreme works of world literature.
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