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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 listeners say about The Divine Comedy

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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.

9 people found this helpful

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Fantastic Read

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

4 people found this helpful

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The Devine Comedy

Wonderful story telling, I listened in conjunction with Gustave's Dore illustrations, again wonderful drawings bringing the whole story alive.

1 person found this helpful

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Simply transcendant

Fully realised adaptations of stories in audiobook form are becoming a new form of entertainment for me and BBC Radio has done a splendid job once again with this abridged adaptation.
John Hurt’s narration adds a reverential and sagely aspect as an older Dante who bridges the gaps between the story’s narrative with his younger self told in flashbacks and the present in which he elaborates on the context of his life in exile, adding history to help ground the narrative. The sound design is spot on and each voice talent truly helps bring a visceral and real element to the story of Dante’s mythical journey through Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. Truly immersive, from the sounds of the beasts and fires of hell to the full choir and soprano singers at the end when Dante ascends to Paradise and meets God.
Highly recommend at a good price or as a token purchase!

1 person found this helpful

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I really enjoyed this book

Book was really interesting and the dramatization was really captivating. Made you feel like you were a part of the story.

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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 person found this helpful

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Beautiful production

I have long wanted to read or listen to this famous classic and this was a perfect and accessible way to experience this poem. Great cast and production. Highly recommended.

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Beautiful!

I've been meaning to read The Divine Comedy for so many years, still haven't got round to it. This was beautiful, a superb cast, and expertly dramatised (I honestly wasn't sure how well dramatising this was going to work). A great listen with much wisdom, it'll certainly keep my brain going for a few days :)

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Truly wonderful from start to finish.

An adaptation of Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy.An epic story full of wonder,deeply moving,the images will last a long time.One of the greatest things I have ever heard.

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A truly wonderful listen

This version had me entranced from the very first few seconds of the sample, so naturally I bought it.
The production, cast and music were simply superb and were enhanced all the more by listening with earphones. Especially in bed at night I found, when there are no other distractions.
Due to the review of ‘amazon user’ on 16/01/21, I bought a hardback book translated by Henry Wadsworth and illustrated by Gustave Doré and next time I listen I will also look at the illustrations for an even more immersive experience.
Leafing through the hardback however, has made me realise just how abridged this version is which I why I knocked one star off the story rating. Perhaps one day I’ll purchase the audible book version which was also translated by Henry Wadsworth and follow along with the hardback, but the narrator Charlton Griffin sounds like something from “lost in space” so I’ll have to choose carefully.
Anyway, this adaptation was sublime and being short, I will listen over and over again I’m sure.

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  • Adeliese Baumann
  • 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.

31 people found this 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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-03-20

Completely skips 2 circles of hell

The narrator goes from circle IV (greed) and skips straight to circle VII (Violence) and doesn't cover at all Circles V and VI

5 people found this 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.

5 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jeffery
  • 12-11-19

Priceless Read for All Christians

As a Catholic, Dante has begun to have a profound effect on me as I study and embrace my renewed faith after years as a self aggrandizing atheist with a self-entitled sense of adept philosophy. I do wish Audible hosted more great Catholic works. But I look forward to when they do.

2 people found this 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.

2 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elsy
  • 26-01-20

I was totally captured

Loved the story. The different voices playing the different characters and sound effects really brought it to life. My only pain point was sometimes the background sounds were louder than the voices so at that point I would need to crank up the volume.

1 person found this helpful