Friday, 8 July 2016

Book #35

Circles of Hell by Dante

Ten of the most memorable and most terrifying cantos from Dante's Inferno.

Knowing myself to be an imbecile of poetry, it was clear I was going to struggle with this one. I have had notions in the past of reading The Divine Comedy, but these best laid plans have never come to fruition. What better tool to use to ease myself into this masterpiece than a small collection of cantos from Inferno?

It didn't work for me. I was so excited by the first canto, becoming absorbed and exhilarated by understanding what was going on, and clicking into symbolism and rhythm. The language was gorgeous and powerful throughout, and for the duration of that first canto, I truly thought I'd discovered something spectacular. Then I was plunged forward in the story, to a different setting, another utterly random canto, and I lost hope. I could no longer understand where I was, what Virgil was showing me, nor the reason for my being there. I was thrown forwards nine times, and became more irritated with each shove.

This random selection would be wonderful for those who have previously read Dante, survived, and would like another whistle stop tour. It's an entirely confusing experience to never have read of Dante's Hell, and then to be presented with it in a piecemeal, illogical fashion.

I'm disappointed; I was so excited to read this, but I truly feel this is one best experienced as a whole. I have no doubt The Divine Comedy will remain on my bucket list for years to come.

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