"Abandon all hope you who enter here." ("Lasciate ogne speranza voi ch’intrate.") Dante’s Hell is one of the most remarkable visions in Western literature. An allegory for his and future ages, it is, at the same time, an account of terrifying realism. Passing under a lintel emblazoned with these frightening words, the poet is led down into the depths by Virgil and shown those doomed to suffer eternal torment for vices exhibited and sins committed on earth.
Inferno is the first part of the long journey which continues through redemption to revelation - through Purgatory and Paradise - and, in this translation, prepared especially for the audiobook, his images are as vivid as when the poem was first written in the early years of the 14th century.
Public Domain (P)2004 Naxos AudioBooks
"Actor and writer Heathcote Williams gives a masterful performance of Benedict Flynn's blank verse translation. Williams modulates his smooth baritone into different characters, maintaining an even pace through this classic work. The cantos are punctuated by short selections of music ranging from Gregorian chant to Renaissance dance music.... A plaintive horn sounds the beginning of Inferno, the beginning of Dante's journey from The Gloomy Wood to the Circles of Hell. Dante begins alone in a fog of seeking and confusion until he encounters the shade of Virgil. When the poets begin the descent at the beginning of Canto Three, Williams's booming voice is technologically enhanced to create an echo for the famous line, "Abandon all hope, you who enter here." (AudioFile)
Benedict Flynn's translation is crisp and clear, and Heathcote Williams's narration is flawless. I have several other recordings of Dante's Inferno, but this is my favorite.
The author tours the underworld, witnessing all the suffering, in a first-person account. Sometimes the language is a little hard to track as this was written hundreds of years ago and translated, but that kind of adds to the overall effect. The actor does a good job with various character voices -- generally you can distinguish them readily and dialogue does not bog down. His voice is very expressive. Don't listen when you need to be perked up!
The overall mood was eerie and the dictation was perfect
The vivid imagination of the author was great in telling the different levels of hell
The classic book was brought to life and the mood by Mr. Williams was spot on.
The Levels of Hell
Author, reader, listener... interested in Great Books of the Western World, historical fiction, Victorian poetry, and some fiction.
It's hard to imagine how anyone can rightly understand the canon of Western Literature without reading Dante. Dante's first part of the Divine Comedy is compelling I itself, but it's also important because of its influence on the Western Canon. His imagery is creative and brilliant, even if his references to conte port personages can't be fully appreciated without a commentary. I listened to this translation and read along in another translation (Charles Eliot Norton) because I could not find acceptable matching versions. Excellent reader (Heathcote Williams), and a good translation (Benedict Flynn). I found the differences in translations did not prevent me from following along. While I recommend reading along while listening, I found that practice especially helpful with Dante. To keep perspective, I also found myself referring back to Dante's own analytical table of contents (wherein he summarizes each canto.
Overall, this was a good experience and I recommend it highly. I also look forward to exploring other translations: Dorothy Sayers and John Ciardi.
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