Heathcote Williams enters into this new translation of Dante's masterpiece with almost as much enthusiasm as did Dante himself. Whether the souls Dante meets in the Inferno are tortured by cold, fire, their own fingernails, or just longing, Williams manages to make their pain come to life. His narration is so dramatic and so individualized that it feels more like a full-cast production than a solo narration, especially with the accompanying music, which both sets the mood and provides transitions. A short biography of Dante read by John Shrapnel accompanies the production. Shrapnel's voice is full of sympathy over Dante's exile, but his primary quality as a narrator is intense clarity; he handles complex political explanations smoothly and seems at ease with the Italian.
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i recommend this reading very highly. heathcote williams gives an excellent read, delivering the text with precision and clarity, personifying each character neatly. the divine comedy is arguably the jewel in the crown of the western canon and is a book that requires a lifetime of reading and rereading. it is a real joy to hear it read in full, so competently.
that said, you need to do some studying to appreciate the book. the text is not as difficult as shakespeare - but dante makes heavy references to the politics and popular stories of his own times. If you do not come to this story as a student, with explanatory notes and a willingness to study, you will be frustrated. but do the homework. the divine comedy is one of the great treasuries of human experience.
so, yes, i really enjoyed listening to the book. my only complaint is that the translator isn't credited - a shame for both the listener, who wants to read along and for the translator who deserves the credit.
i am no expert, but i liked the translation. the text is rendered in prose, and it sounds natural and unforced to my ear. i think that this is the version to go with if you serious about listening to the whole work. the pinsky/cleese version is very, very good- both the translation (pinsky is a superb poet) and cleese's read (fun & lively - he obviously loves the book) but it is an abridged version. if you're only passingly interested in the inferno, i'd go with that. but why invest all the effort required, if only for a fraction of a fraction? and the other version with a woman reading it is as knuckle-headed an idea as i can imagine: the text is written the first person, in dante's voice - why would you cast the role as a woman? it’s as stupid an idea as having a man read molly bloom.
anyhow... heathcote williams gives a great read, reads an unabridged version and reads all three poems. i look forward to taking the entire journey with him.
Heathcote Williams and this free verse translation of The devine comedy trully is a masterpiece of the MASTERPIECE of The Comedy,the finest spiritual poem EVER WRITTEN [outside the Bible] You will be entranced while listening to this incredible recording of'' the Florentine's great poem..hope you enjoy!
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