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Dante's Divine Comedy Lecture

Dante's Divine Comedy

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Publisher's Summary

Professors Cook and Herzman provide you with an illuminating introduction to one of the greatest works ever written. One of the most profound and satisfying of all poems, The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri is a book for life. In a brilliantly constructed narrative of his imaginary guided pilgrimage through the three realms of the Christian afterlife, Dante accomplished a literary task of astonishing complexity.

But the full achievement of the Commedia goes beyond anything merely literary. In these twenty-four lectures, as you follow Dante on his journey, you'll learn how medieval literature offers insights into fundamental questions: What is the quality of our moral actions? How does spiritual transformation come about? What is the nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, sin and sanctity? Why is the world so full of strife? How do we go on when we lose the things we love? You'll discover why, in the centuries since the Commedia was written, not one of these questions has lost its force. Moreover, you'll hear Dante address them in a demanding and innovative Italian verse form (terza rima) that makes the Commedia one of the great virtuoso pieces of world literature.

With the guidance of these two master professors, you'll learn invaluable background information on Dante's life and times; why Dante wrote the Commedia; how to approach the various English editions available; and how each part of the poem is connected to what has come before. But above all, you'll understand why the Commedia is not a puzzle to be solved or a book to be read and put aside-but a mystery whose beauty and richness is to be constantly savored.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    Patti Richmond, VA, United States 08-25-13
    Patti Richmond, VA, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Commedia for Modern Readers"
    Would you listen to Dante's Divine Comedy again? Why?

    Yes I will definitely listen to this again. Its chalk full of information on the symbolism, characters, and political climate that existed in Italy around the time Dante wrote the Commedia. The first listen has given me an over view of the work. I will go back to fill in the details with my own copy of the translation so that I can experience the work as it was meant to be experienced.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Dante's "Divine Comedy" is a classic that is somewhat inaccessible to many readers today who don't have a degree in Italian history, politics and art. This presentation cuts through all that and allow everyone to access the themes and meanings in the work. The poem is presented line by line with descriptions of every line and character. Its provides an excellent way for a modern reader to enjoy this extraordinary work.


    What about Professor Ronald B. Herzman and Professor William R. Cook ’s performance did you like?

    The performance is presented in a clear and easy to listen to lecture format. Its broken down into 30 minute sessions which are excellent for the drive into work so its easy to bring Dante along.


    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Linz 02-04-15
    David Linz 02-04-15 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible, best audio course I have ever taken"

    I was really caught off guard by how enlightening this course was. The authors immediately dispel the common perception of the Comedia as some kind of poetic revenge fantasy and break through to the core of Dante's vision. Introducing the readers to a bit of the necessary history, the course is then able to spring board into Dante's perspective on sin and virtue. One warning, this course necessarily only skims the surface of what is to be found in The Divine Comedy. Nevertheless it is a great first step for anyone seeking to understand the great Florentine poet!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-07-16
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-07-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "trying to find his way home"

    ? do you ever suspect, that you're not as well-educated as you think
    ? are there great, classic works of literature that just intimidate you
    ? ron herzman and bill cook would like to help you with that problem

    together, they have taught dante's " divine comedy " for decades
    their experience and teaching talents are on vivid display in this recording
    together they act as patient and proficient guides to this great poem

    1300's florence has many tiresome similarities to our own modern world
    commercial greed, urban apathy, political ambition, religious corruption etc.
    dante was exiled from his home city, in one of these long-running squabbles

    he wrote the poem as " a stranger in a strange land " longing for home
    his initial hopes for return were crushed and he slowly learned to accept his fate
    he wearily concluded, that heaven was the only home he could hope for

    the recording is organized into 40 minute lectures and notes are provided
    herzman and cook do an excellent job of providing context and back story
    their ability to relate dante's struggle to a modern audience is remarkable

    ? has adult life dealt you a long series of defeats and obstacles
    ? are there times you feel " exiled " from the life you thought you'd have
    the ancient voice of dante alighieri would like to help you find your way home




    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FinalFrontier 08-14-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Excellent Commentary on the Divine Comedy"

    This is an excellent introduction to this poem. The lecturers are engaging, lively and informative.

    The format reminds me of a sports commentator who describes an event and is assisted by his color commentator who gives the audience additional information.

    Just as Virgil and others serve as Dante's guides on his journey, these lecturers serve as our guides through the poem. They especially remind me of how Virgil patiently explains things to Dante, since they give us some idea of what to expect, no matter what translation of the Comedy we work with. Also, like Virgil, they step back and allow us to explore the poem without them having to be there.

    If you're having trouble with the Divine Comedy, this lecture series is highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Rothe 09-06-15
    Jeff Rothe 09-06-15
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    "A must read"

    a great way to meditate and self reflect 30 minutes per day. will listen to it again

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JuanAndRaquel 07-07-15
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    "Historical Dante's Commedia"
    What made the experience of listening to Dante's Divine Comedy the most enjoyable?

    The course is taught by two professors, apparently Catholic, and obviously well versed with Dante and one of them with Church history.


    Any additional comments?

    The course, however, is more like a history of who was who in Dante as well as the politics of his time, although they certainly touch upon the philosophical and theological points that Dante makes throughout.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Morehead City, NC, USA 01-16-15
    Todd Morehead City, NC, USA 01-16-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Wonderful teachers"

    Excellent pair of lecturers. Made the subject matter very accessible and understandable. Highly recommend this as an adjunct to your reading of the poem

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison 11-14-17
    Allison 11-14-17
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    "Let Cook and Herzman guide you..."

    I discovered this course during Audible's Great Courses sale last summer and was immediately intrigued, since I had previously purchased the edition of Dante's Divine Comedy narrated by Ralph Cosham. I had started to listen to it, but was quickly discouraged by the unfamiliar names and cultural references.

    The 24 lectures in this course first give some literary, cultural, and political background for Dante and Italy in the Middle Ages. Cook and Herzman also discuss the merits of the different English translations available.

    After establishing this background, they then begin discussing the text itself, starting with the Inferno and working up to the Paradiso (where I am now). Several references are made to the specific cantos (sections) being discussed, which makes it easy to follow along if you have a print version handy (which I would recommend). They also make frequent connections between the characters that Dante and Virgil meet in the different parts of the afterlife.

    Both Cook and Herzman are very knowledgeable about Dante and the Divine Comedy, having taught it for many years. They are also clearly used to teaching together, as they easily share the floor and frequently build off something the other person just said.

    Finally, each lecture is about 30 minutes, which seems just right for this sort of topic. Though Cook and Herzman necessarily cannot go into too much detail about any section of the poem or Dante's life (that would take a lot longer than twelve and a half hours :-)), this is an excellent course for those looking, as I was, for a solid introduction to Dante and the Divine Comedy.

    Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carissa 06-27-17
    Carissa 06-27-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Wonderful"

    I read the entire Comedian twice before listening to this course. After this course I found myself reading it all over again, amazed at the insights and allusions found within its inspired pages. It has revolutionized the way I think about politics, the cult of celebrity, and the nature of freedom. I thus resolved to read Dante once a year until I meet him in paradise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calico Pete 06-22-17
    Calico Pete 06-22-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A brilliant companion to The Divine Comedy"

    This is a wonderful companion to the first time reader of the Divine Comedy that will definitely add to the richness of your experience of this amazing work. Professors Herzman and Cook provide an extremely useful mythological, historical, political and religious context and background to both Dante's life and the poem. Their enthusiasm for this work is infectious and they work beautifully together. I listened to these lecturers in tandem with the The Divine Comedy, pausing when I advanced to a certain point in the lectures to then listen up to that point in the poem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Karen
    Barnsley, United Kingdom
    3/31/15
    Overall
    "A wonderful way to understand this masterpiece"

    Excellent teaching. Easy on the ear and a wonderful way in to this classic text. Full of interesting explanations and new thoughts for me on Dante

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    2/18/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "Long Journey"

    This lecture series gives you exactly what it says. The tag-team lecturers take a few minutes to get used to, but its unnoticeable once you get going. It helps if you've read at least a synopsis of the poem and have a cursory understanding of Italian history, but they go pretty thoroughly into everything, so you could probably survive without any background read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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