Get a free audiobook

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide, his ascent of Mount Purgatory and his encounter with his dead love Beatrice, and finally, his arrival in Heaven. 

Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption. This major translation is published here for the first time in a single volume.

Public Domain (P)2020 Penguin Audio

More from the same

What listeners say about The Divine Comedy

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No reviews are available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 2020-11-15

Solid, read with gusto

I tried to read Kirkpatrick’s translation when all three parts were first published in one volume. It was a hard slog. I tend to gravitate toward translations that are written on a more consistently accessible level: less charitable people might describe them as “dumbed down.” I had recently finished reading Stanley Lombardo’s translation of the Comedy, which I think is NOT dumbed down, but which I found more immediately intelligible. With Kirkpatrick, I found myself having to stop and retrace my steps fairly often to parse the sentence I'd just read. For whatever reason, I found this much less of a problem while listening to it. Part of it is the energy brought to the task by the excellent narrators Penguin has chosen for the task. But part of it is something I've noticed with other poetry that seems dense at first glance: it's like a mobile that lies flat on the table, but assumes a vivid, moving form when you hang it from the ceiling and let it spin in the air. ....up to a point. The simplest translating style in the world is going to make the third canticle, Paradise, a challenge for most modern readers. The other two parts are grounded in vivid descriptions of human suffering. But in Paradise, by definition, no one is suffering, so the space is filled up with increasingly abstract theological hair-splitting. The spectacular vision of the heavenly Rose and of the Trinity at the end of the journey is worth the price of admission, but it was hard for me, at least, to find a place to fasten onto in the meantime. Kirkpatrick appears to be following the conscientious translator’s maxim that his English rendering should be as simple as Dante’s Italian, but not one bit simpler. The big disadvantage of listening to the Comedy, as opposed to reading it, is that you don't have access to the hundreds of notes that accompany the text and explain Dante’s many allusions to contemporary politics, classical mythology and other areas of learning. It doesn't appear that Penguin is participating in the Kindle read-along program, but this title would be a good candidate for it. (If you tackle this as your first try at the Divine Comedy, you should definitely have a copy of the Penguin text to follow. You could then stop between each canto and check the notes for what you've just heard.) The introduction is placed at the end of the recording, presumably to avoid “spoilers.” I'm in favor of trying to read the work before reading the introduction, but how the concept of spoilers could apply to the Divine Comedy baffles me. So, spoilers: Dante gets through hell and purgatory, meets Beatrice, gets a tour of heaven, has a vision of the Trinity, and ends the poem abruptly at that point. (Curiously, at the time I listened to the audiobook, the introduction, which is nearly two hours long, was bundled into the single track labeled “End Credits.”) Wherever it's placed, Kirkpatrick’s introduction — read by himself — is marked by great clarity. It provides the historical background of Florentine politics and Dante’s place in that world; the place of Italy in the rivalry between the Holy Roman Empire and the nation-states then rising in Europe; and most of all it provides a high-level exposition of the Comedy itself. Dante is writing an epic, he says, but he remains a poet of love. The introduction is rounded off with an exploration of the technical problems involved in translating Dante. Penguin has gone to quite a bit of trouble to put this together with different narrators. In this case, Jot Davies takes on the main burden as the Pilgrim and the voices of the people Dante meets along the way; Kristin Atherton is Beatrice; and the translator, Robin Kirkpatrick, takes the role of Virgil (and acquits himself well, leading me to suspect he's had professional training in the spoken arts). The overall direction seems to have been: read it with GUSTO. I don’t think there are any other recordings of the poem that put so much feeling into the reading, or so much variety into the voices: it’s hard to believe at times that there are only three narrators. My one and only complaint is one that applies to a couple of the Penguin offerings. The volume sometimes varies beyond the level of comfort: the pilgrim’s narration drops off into a whisper until he encounters one of the denizens of the afterlife, whose voice suddenly screeches out at top volume. This doesn't happen all the time, just sometimes, so it's not really a deal-breaker, just an occasional annoyance. On the whole, this is one of the best Penguin Classics offerings I've encountered in their new series of unabridged recordings.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous
  • 2020-10-07

bravo! best dante on audible

amazing to finally have a decent contemporary translation of the divine comedy on audible. this is without a doubt the version you should listen to. very thankful for this existing. it's necessary to pair this with the great courses audio course on the divine comedy and some podcast episodes like "entitled opinions" two-part episode. and look at the Dore illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy while following along. three points of feedback on the production (but none of these are dealbreakers): it's necessary to listen to the introduction before listening to the book itself. they should've put the introduction at the beginning instead of moving it to the end. it's not like there are spoilers in this book. they should've cut the very long introduction up into chapters within the audible app. right now it's all one: an hour and a half long section. but there are obvious subsections that should've been separated out so you can skip around or jump back to a specific topic within the introduction. there should be a narrator that has a different accent/sounding voice than everyone else that reads the canto commentaries at the end of each canto. i know people who aren't familiar with this book think it disrupts the flow, but realistically nobody reads this book straight through. it's impossible. the canto commentaries are part of the fun. every pilgrim who picks up this book needs a guide/virgil. surprised the commentaries weren't included at all. they could've been stacked together at the end for listeners who want to jump back and forth. the voices of the narrators go from loud to soft throughout. so on my car speakers, i kept on having to turn the volume up and then the volume down. the emotional performances and characters were wonderful. but sometimes it sounded like they were whispering and other times they were intense. good for drama, not so great for an audiobook.