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The Divine Comedy

Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso
Length: 2 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (162 ratings)
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Summary

Blake Ritson, David Warner, Hattie Morahan and John Hurt star in this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Dante's epic poem.

Inferno: Thirty-five year old Dante finds himself in the middle of a dark wood, in extreme personal and spiritual crisis. Hope of rescue appears in the form of the venerable poet Virgil, now a shade himself, who offers to lead Dante on an odyssey through the afterlife, beginning in the terrifying depths of Hell.

Purgatorio: Dante is led up Mount Purgatory by his guide. They encounter numerous souls who have embarked on the same difficult journey - one that will eventually lead to their spiritual salvation.

Paradiso: Dante's journey comes to a glorious conclusion as he is led by Beatrice, through the spheres of Paradise and into the presence of God himself. As they ascend, they encounter a number of souls who have also achieved blessedness. Many years later, the older Dante reflects on the episodes from his life that have inspired his great poem.

©2014 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2014 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What members say

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Very good

I first listened to this when it was broadcast on the radio. It is very enjoyable and have listened to it many times. I would recommend it to anyone.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic Read

The performances were amazing. Gives real insight into Christians and non-Christians. Really makes you think!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful adaptation

I have not read the original and in sure that if I had, I would have reservations about what must have been huge cuts, but as an experience in its own right, this is superb. Rich in imagery but never intimidating. Very approachable. And navigates some of the moral certainties of dante which a modern reader might find challenging, with great finesse. Congratulations to all involved.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a solid but trimmed down work

solid rendition, heavily trimmed down, voice acting was very good as can be expected, just slightly dissapointed with the glance over nature

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makes you think,

loved this, very real and raw and defenilty something everyone should read. in the end it's all about choices.

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Enjoyable

Enjoyable book, fairly short can listen in a night if you wish to do so. Good performance

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Simply brilliant

Loved it, great pace, great narrators and a genuine pleasure from the very bottom to top!

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Classic Story

I thought the adaptation did exceptionally well at translating the horror at the images we're supposed to see in the inferno. The dramatization was excellent. My issue is with the base story itself as, while the inferno is great for the imagery, the paradiso always felt... empty, especially for paradise.

However, if you liked any of the three of dante's originals, but you want an easier performance style piece, this should meet those needs.

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Moving.

The inferno terrified, purgatory challenged, and paradise enchanted. Throughout the whole story, though, are moral truths that seem as needed now as in the 14th century. Dante's indignation at Florentine baseness mixed with his massive theological and philosophical might make this story one to know. And the fact it is shortened and dramatised only serves to intensify the experience. I'll listen to this many more times.

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  • darren
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 05-08-15

Disappointing

Any additional comments?

This audio-book just did not do it for me. I know it's supposed to be a classic but I just found it ridiculous!

2 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Zaubermond
  • 21-10-16

Revisiting the land of the dead

My last year's reading has mostly been on things Italian and in the Italian language. Still, I regret to say I haven't picked up Dante in thirty years, so when I saw this title, I reacquainted myself with this incredible work of art.

Naturally, a radio broadcast can't cover the whole spectrum of the poem, and translations are apt to miss a few things, but as a dramatic production, it's first rate. All actors are superb --- David Warner in particular has an incredible voice and impeccable timing --- and the situations are beautifully rendered. I enjoyed every minute.

Listening to this inspired me to listen to Clive James' translation of the Divine Comedy, read by Edoardo Ballerini. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to investigate further. Ballerini's reading is particularly enchanting.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole
  • 08-11-14

A great introduction to The Divine Comedy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a great way to get a gist of The Divine Comedy. It's beautifully narrated with different voices for different characters. When you add the sound effects and different cool effects you get a whole experience that really pulls you into the story. You don't think that the story is being told to you. Instead you feel like you are right there with Dante going through the same experiences that he is.

What did you like best about this story?

As it's The Divine Comedy, the story speaks for itself. What I liked the best was how you never knew what was going to happen but knew that it was going to affect you greatly. It feels real and you honestly fear for Dante's life even though you know that nothing bad is going to happen to him. This trilogy is very graphic and pulls on your emotions as it looks at major theological and philosophical questions. You never really get bored.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

It was a full cast which was great. You get that full on experience of living there. I loved that so much! It really honestly felt as if you were there because of that. Instead of one narrator doing different voices of characters. Even the older Dante is played by a different voice actor. I loved that older Dante was played by John Hurt but I didn't recognize who did the voice of the younger Dante. It has been stated that Dante was a symbol of the every man. So having it not be a recognizable actor, at least to me, added in its brilliance.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Experience the three realms of the afterlife like never before...in stunning 3D.

Any additional comments?

I do want to note that this is abridged from the source material. It's a dramatization and skips cantos. This can be annoying especially as there are cantos that I thought they would not skip. There was one spectacular action sequence from Infierno that they skipped that shocked me. It was one that should have been here. Even with that it's a great dramatization. This is a great thing to listen to if you want the main gist or read the whole comedy and want to hear it. I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in The Divine Comedy.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • CHET YARBROUGH
  • 09-12-18

MASTERFUL TRANSLATION

Superb cast. Translation is always a concern but the essence of this classic seems well captured to this ignorant English only listener.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • thomas m.
  • 23-06-17

Great summary but not a good source for analysis.<br />

loved the acting but felt that it didn't grasp the entire comedy tone. Considerating the constraints of a dramatization, i got a good feeling for the plot, but not the fear and visuals that exist in the comedy. One should read those aswell to fully appreciate the comedy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Reader
  • 05-08-16

Amazing.

fantastic, always thought this poem would be boring and dry but it was entertaining, enlightening, and very well done. listen to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Melone
  • 27-05-16

a great synopsis of the Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy has always been one of my favorite book series. This audio recording does a fine job of summarizing the trilogy, but sadly lacks a lot of detail I enjoyed in the original works. Key points, like the Devil's three heads, people met throughout the books, and the like are missing. If you are considering reading the Divine Comedy this will serve as a fantastic introduction, but if you truly enjoy it I would highly suggest the original works.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Morten
  • 19-06-15

Devine

An amazing journey. Read it under the sun, with plenty of time. Very good production and performance, masterfully written, enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • 26-01-15

Awesome

I'm 14 and I loved this book. It met every expectation. I just loved it so much it was amazing

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Thal
  • 23-10-18

Beautiful!

I picked this up at random to listen to while I was out and about. It turned out that it was an absolute joy to listen to. The performances are all great, and the story is surprisingly relevant to my own life and to society generally. Religious or not, politically or historically interested or not, this will be a great experience for you.

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  • Corey
  • 25-09-18

Wow...

This is incredibly well done. I'm blown away. it's just... amazing. I highly recommend this to everybody.