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Summary

Dante Alighieri was early in recognizing that our age has a problem. His hometown, Florence, was at the epicenter of the move from the medieval world to the modern. He realized that awareness of divine reality was shifting, and that if it were lost, dire consequences would follow. The Divine Comedy was born in a time of troubling transition, which is why it still speaks today.

Dante’s masterpiece presents a cosmic vision of reality, which he invites his readers to traverse with him. In this narrative retelling and guide, from the gates of hell, up the mountain of purgatory, to the empyrean of paradise, Mark Vernon offers a vivid introduction and interpretation of a book that, 700 years on, continues to open minds and change lives.

“Just as Dante had Virgil, we have Mark Vernon: the perfect guide to Dante’s epic and fantastic journey. This is not just a description of what happens and who we meet, it’s an invitation to read The Divine Comedy as a way to change our own consciousness and embrace a more spacious reality: everything is bigger on the inside. I started highlighting sentences I wanted to think about, but ended up with yellow stripes everywhere: there are insights on every page. A marvelous book that blew away a lot of my assumptions about The Divine Comedy." (Susanna Clarke, author of Piranesi and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)

"There has long been need for a scholarly but deft guide to Dante’s masterpiece, not just as a literary curiosity but as a profound examination of the meaning of life in a world less material than ours. Here at last is one for which we can be grateful. Like Virgil guiding Dante, Vernon accompanies the reader on the fascinating journey from hell through purgatory to paradise; he is a delightful companion, and I for one learnt a great deal from the experience.” (Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary)

“As late modern readers and writers, we live at an unfortunate remove from much of the greatest literature of earlier epochs principally in thinking of it solely as literature, whose chief meaning and value can be exhaustively described in strictly critical categories. We scarcely remember how to see poetry—or any of the arts—as belonging to a fuller vision of reality, with spiritual as well as purely aesthetic dimensions. This is an unfortunate state of affairs in regard to any literary text of consequence, but in regard to a work of the magnitude and splendor of The Divine Comedy, it is tragic. An approach like Mark Vernon’s is precisely the remedy required if one wants truly to see the poem for what it is, and to see through the poem to what it adumbrates.” (David Bentley Hart, author of Roland in Moonlight)

“Dante’s spiritual pilgrimage through hell, purgatory, then up through the seven heavens to a vision of the Mystic Rose is one of the masterpieces of human imagination. Mark Vernon guides us through the great poem, giving light, gathering insights from other commentators, granting us a sensitive, fresh perspective. Whether the Comedy is a familiar favorite or forbiddingly foreign, readers will here find companionship, nourishment, and assistance as they traverse the Dantean soul-scape.” (Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis)

©2021 Angelico Press (P)2021 Mark Vernon

What listeners say about Dante's Divine Comedy

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A masterpiece on a masterpiece.

Absolutely loved listing to this audiobook. Mark Vernon's passion is apparent and contagious. His insights are rich, deep and often revelatory as he dives into Dante's genius. Wonderfully written, accessable, delightfully thought provoking and inspiring.

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The best guide to The Divine Comedy

I knew Mark Vernon previously from YouTube, through his erudite commentary and storytelling of the Divine Comedy, elucidating historical, metaphysical and spiritual topics.This audiobook is at no point dull.
I consider Markl the greatest guide to Dante's Divine Comedy at the moment.
Mark Vernon's voice is also pleasant to listen to.

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  • Christopher Cummings
  • 17-01-22

Excellent, compelling listen

The 700th Anniversary of Dante’s writing of the Divine Comedy has led to many new books and renewed interest in this masterful work. Mark Vernon’s book is highly recommended as a guide. I found Mark’s narration compelling and felt I was journeying alongside Dante and Virgil. This book is inspired and Mark Vernon has humbly offered a rich text for us to explore ourselves and our world.

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  • Therese Killen
  • 07-01-22

Who knew Hell could be so illuminating

I am still not out of Hell in my reading/listening. It's slow going for me because I am reading the Divine Comedy and reading/listening to Mark Vernon's book and audiobook at the same time. Mark Vernon brings freshness to Dante's tale both in tone and descriptive examples. At the same time, his description and comments enhance the deep, spiritual message of the original. This is a story of discovering the purpose and pitfalls of being a human on the earth, still as relevant today as it was 700 years ago—and maybe needed more now than then. Wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of reading Dante's original alone.

Mark's reading is excellent. I always enjoy listening to what Mark has to say, and listening to him read his book is great because his enthusiasm and understanding of the material shine through. The self-examination of Hell is personally revelatory. Can't wait to get to the transformative opportunities of Purgatory and the delight of Heaven.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-12-21

Everything I ever wanted in an audiobook

Vernon's audiobook has served as a wonderful companion on evening walks. He offers a welcoming way into Dante's classic. It soothes and uplifts, and helps me feel more at home in the world. I can't recommend it highly enough.