9780871404480_custom-e5e60fab00723d840e72b72d975e2ee2baefd8eb-s6-c30Reviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

My desire to read this translation of the The Divine Comedy came from another series of books that I recently finished–the Gabriel’s Inferno trilogy. The premise of these trilogies was of Dante and Beatrice’s unrequited love and it inspired me to find out more about what really happened between them. This translation is written in poem form and although I found it to be natural and flow easily from one verse to the next, I believe that reading it one time through will give it no justice. It is still difficult to comprehend, in terms of taking Italian and transferring it to English, but I feel that with age, time and re-reading, the full meaning will emerge. I have nothing to compare it to seeing that I did not read the Italian version, so whether or not it was given the justice it deserved is beyond me.

This poem is a journey through Dante’s life and soul, a very personal and philosophical one that follows him through three Cantos (sections): Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. In Hell, Dante experiences what most of us have felt at one point or another in life: loss and disappointment. He feels like a “lost soul” who cannot find his way. He is surrounded by “beasts,” which I believe are part of the 7 Deadly Sins that follow him throughout the translation.

Moving forward, Dante approaches Purgatory, after surviving Hell. Again, this is a theme that I felt as if I related to in a different context. We have all been there–feeling like the world is ending and that we are in a living Hell, only to make it out alive and see the world for something new. Throughout all Cantos, Love is a reoccurring theme, one that anyone can relate to as well.

Dante’s final destination lands him in Heaven, an awakening of sorts. He has travelled through a long spiritual and emotional journey and finds himself waking up to see life for what it is (my interpretation). One of my favorite lines in the poem is that Dante finds that Heaven is “what human eyes permit him to see.” Is this not the truth in life? We only see the negative when things go wrong and struggle to see the positive and remember the things that make us human and happy.

In my opinion, this novel has great promise, but I will definitely need to re-read this again. Although there was a natural rhythm and flow to it, it still was hard to relate terms to English, due to the fact that some words cannot be translated as well. If you are not a literature lover, I am not sure this book would be the way to go. You have to want to understand what is being written and think while you are reading it. It is not an easy read, though it is a beautiful poem.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Liveright. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.