Dante's The Divine Comedy is one of the most influential works of Western literature. Published shortly after Dante's death in 1321, it is a remarkable vision of a man's journey down into Inferno, then to the limbo of Purgatory where Man pays penance while awaiting redemption, and finally to the bliss of Paradise. It has retained its power and its poetic impulse over seven centuries.
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There are two difficulties with any reading of The Inferno from Dante's Divine Comedy. First, the work contains a vast number of Christian, classical and Italian references, which make the reader depend upon copious footnotes and put the listener at a disadvantage. However, Naxos has provided a booklet with some notes to accompany the reading. Second, to understand the Divine Comedy fully, one must know the whole work; here we have only The Inferno--without The Purgatorio or Paradiso. These difficulties aside, this is a wonderful reading of a truly great work. Williams brings this text to life through a clear, forceful reading and the versatile characterization of more than twenty characters. M.L.C. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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