Recording (P)1997 by Audio Literature; Translation Copyright 1994 by Robert Pinsky
"Line by line, canto by canto, Pinsky's version responds to every nuance of meaning in the original while its English remains fluid and colloquial." (Alan Williamson, The American Poetry Review)
The Inferno is an excellent work in itself and is extremely interesting for anyone. The narration of Mr. Cleese is however somewhat difficult to follow. His overly-excited and passionate voices for the suffering denizens of hell are difficult to make out. It is however very fun to hear a voice from a Monty Python movie or the like come through. Listen carefully and follow along and you shouldn't have too many problems.
John Cleese narrate Dante?! Definitely took a few minutes to purge the Monty Python demons from my head, but once I got into it I think Cleese was a remarkably good narrator. Some complained it was hard to understand, but I thought he was very understandable.
John Cleese is perfect, and Pinsky's translation is the best. My only problem with this title is the abridgment. Why is it abridged? Several cantos are left out, and it only serves to detract from the experience. The unabridged readings on Audible only seem to be about an hour longer.
For those unfamiliar with the text, the Inferno is the first part of a trilogy about hell, purgatory, and heaven (in that order). The story of Dante's journey through hell is dark, but not scary. I'd describe it as wondrous. It's like a sight-seeing trip. What you are seeing is horrible, yet so vivid and interesting that you can't turn away. My favorite part about it is how specific Dante is about everything. He describes exactly where in hell each type of sinner should go and what their punishment should be, all in great detail.
The other side of the Inferno is its historical context. Not only is Inferno a great read, but it also offers a glimpse at Dante's worldview. In almost every canto Dante encounters people he either knew personally or were well known at the time. In this way it almost reads like an angsty teenager's blog, calling out all of the ass kissers and bullies that he can't otherwise do anything about.
I prefer Robert Pinsky's translation because it is modern, it doesn't try to rhyme (yet preserves the flow), and it is beautifully blunt.
Regardless of the missing cantos (don't worry, they are few), I highly recommend this audio book. John Cleese really is amazing, and nobody else has narrated Pinsky's translation. In my opinion, there is not a better version available.
Yes its me!
Written sometime in the 1200's makes this book even more mind blowing. That many modern pieces take pages from this book even today is a testament to its greatness.
Compared to the Kenny translation, I found this very hard to listen to. The language was much less engaging and the audio quality and narrator inflections made is much less engaging.
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