The Divine Comedy – INFERNO
This is an unabridged version of INFERNO, the first part of The Divine Comedy, an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri.
The Divine Comedy is written in the first person, and tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory, and Beatrice, Dante's ideal woman, guides him through Heaven. On the surface, the poem describes Dante's travels through Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise/Heaven), but at a deeper level, it represents allegorically the soul's journey towards God.
INFERNO begins on the night before Good Friday in the year 1300, ”halfway along our life's path”. Dante is thirty-five years old, half of the biblical lifespan of 70, lost in a dark wood (understood as sin), assailed by beasts (a lion, a leopard, and a she-wolf) he cannot evade and unable to find the ”straight way” – also translatable as ”right way” – to salvation (symbolized by the sun behind the mountain).
Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a ”low place” where the sun is silent, Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in INFERNO is a symbolic instance of poetic justice; for example, in Canto XX, fortune-tellers and soothsayers must walk with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because that was what they had tried to do in life.
This translation by Charles Eliot Norton, from 1891, is written in prose, a form of grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than the original blank verse. The translation includs more than 1,300 footnotes and explanations.
Audio book read by Tony Addison, running time 5 hours, 18 min. Unabridged full version. Also available as E-Book: ePUB, 49,300 words including the endnotes. Average reading time should be around 4 hours and 40 min, but is likely longer due to the content text.
The Divine Comedy is available in one full volume including all three parts, or as separate E-Books or audio books; INFERNO (5 hours, 16 min), PURGATORIO (5 hours, 25 min), and PARADISO (5 hours, 38 min.
Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.