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Publisher's Summary

"Midway on our life's journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost. To tell about those woods is hard - so tangled and rough...." So begins Dante Alighieri's epic poem of a journey through Hell. With the poet Virgil as his guide, Dante travels through the 9 circles of Hell, listening to the voices of the condemned until at last, "we came forth, and once more saw the stars." Poet and essayist Robert Pinsky's translation captures the intensity and passion of the literary masterpiece, and world-renowned actor John Cleese contributes a profound and electrifying performance.

To supplement this reading of Dante's Inferno, listen to The SparkNotes Guide to Dante's Inferno.
Recording (P)1997 by Audio Literature; Translation Copyright 1994 by Robert Pinsky

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Good Interpretation, Somewhat difficult to follow

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Surprisingly Good

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic narration and translation

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Poor audio quality

The audio quality is very poor. Sounds like it was re-recorded from tape! This made it very difficult to understand. I gave up on it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best rendition of Dante's Inferno EVER.

If you only ever read Dante's Inferno once, or are a long time fan who has read countless reiterations already, this chilling and compellingly narrated rendition is a must-have.

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The Inferno of Dantè is worth listening to.

Somber, but not depressing. John Cleese is a great narrator. It's a short listen, and well worth it.

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Donate's Inferno

Loved it. I have read this book seven times since November. Grate narration.Absolutely timeless!

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Why is John Cleese mumbling?

What would have made The Inferno of Dante better?

The recording quality here was awful; there were parts where I couldn't understand a word Cleese was saying... and audio levels would shift noticeably in different sections.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Abrupt ending left me with no emotional reaction.

What three words best describe John Cleese’s voice?

Pleasant, sometimes ridiculous.

What character would you cut from The Inferno of Dante?

Toward the end, Cleese voiced some characters with the same tone and inflection as Monty Python's "There's a penguin on the telly!" and "I'm not dead yet!"

Any additional comments?

I listened to this in prep for a live reading on Holy Thursday -- and it was serviceable for that purpose. However, I'm a big fan of John Cleese, and I was a bit disappointed by it all. Mostly due to the quality of the recording, I suppose.

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Amazing, poetic.

What made the experience of listening to The Inferno of Dante the most enjoyable?

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.<br/><br/>

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  • DHM
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 03-25-12

Muddled voice and language

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.