The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Dante’s Inferno . . . our grandson was reading it in school and
said it was “fun.”  I’m always anxious to check off a book from all
the ‘good reading’ lists—so I checked it out of the library.  I
received the Everyman’s Library edition.

I got lucky because not only was it a highly respected translation–by
Allen Mandelbaum, but the illustrations were a rollicking riot!

Yes, you read that correctly.  The illustrations—they are probably
to blame for my never reading it before.  I grew up with The Divine
Comedy
on the bookshelf, but with those original illustrations by
Gustave Doré I was scared out of my wits to open the book!

With a little legwork–ok, fingerwork–I found out that there have
been three well-regarded artists to accompany editions of the book:
Gustave Doré, Salvador Dali, and Alessandro Botticelli—yes, the
same Botticelli as his masterpiece The Birth of Venus.  

Here is Gustave Doré:

Titans and Giants, Canto XXXI by Gustave Doré

illustration of the Titans and Giants, Canto XXXI from The Inferno by Gustave Doré

 

 

 

 

 

Here is Salvador Dali:

Illus from The Inferno by Salvador Dali.    Yikes!

Illus from The Inferno by
Salvador Dali. Yikes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here is Alessandro Botticelli:

illus for Dante's Inferno by Alessandro Botticelli Canto XIX

illus for Dante’s Inferno by Alessandro Botticelli Canto XIX

 

(Click to enlarge and see the whimsical FUN
in this illustration—even though we’re talking
about Hell!)

 

 

 

In this first section of The Divine Comedy  written in the 14th
Century as an epic poem, Dante visits Hell as a Pilgrim, exploring
the innermost circles of the divisions of Hell.  Here he sees the
‘rewards’ of lives spent in gluttony, lust, greed—all the baddy
traits and we are treated to what might become of us if we don’t
mend our ways!

Happily, he meets and is accompanied by the Roman poet, Virgil,
who knows his way around pretty well, and we feel a little bit
protected in our explorations.

The poem is divided into 34 Cantos which move our reading right
along.

Yes, it’s a poem, but that rhyming  sensation wears off early on and the
reading is carried by our own curiosity of what Hell might be like.
Frankly, I might not have persevered if it had not been for the
delightful illustrations by Botticelli.

But from the opening line: “When I had journeyed half of our life’s
way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the
path that does not stray . . .”   

we find ourselves on our own journey of what might be the true
meaning of life—and after our strange exploration, we finish:
(last line) ” . . .we emerged, to see—once more—the stars.”

Lovely.

cover illustration is of  Dante Alighieri; Everyman's Library edition

cover illustration of
Dante Alighieri; Everyman’s Library edition

three antique mother of pearl carved buttons ©booksandbuttons

three antique mother of pearl carved buttons ©booksandbuttons

 

Three button review.

 

 

 

 

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