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Item description for Purgatory by Dante Alighieri & Heathcote Williams...

A brilliant new translation of the centerpiece of The Divine Comedy

Purgatory, the mountain that straightens souls made crooked by the world, is Dantes single most conceptually brilliant creation. Anthony Esolens vivid and innovative new rendering unearths Dantes own voice with unprecedented vigor, accuracy, and a masterly use of English meter. It will set the standard for years to come.

Esolens Introduction incisively explores Dantes theological universe: the nature of Purgatory, how Dante came to invent it, and how Purgatory is finally about restoration, liberation, and friendship. Special features, from an appendix that reproduces key sources to extensive explanatory notes, make this a particularly illuminating edition for both expert and newcomer.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Audiobook,   Unabridged
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 4.75"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Feb 28, 2005
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626343168  
ISBN13  9789626343166  

Availability  0 units.

More About Dante Alighieri & Heathcote Williams

Dante Alighieri Durante degli Alighieri, simply referred to as Dante (1265–1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called La Comedia and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.

In Italy he is known as il Sommo Poeta ("the Supreme Poet") or just il Poeta. He, Petrarch and Boccaccio are also known as "the three fountains" or "the three crowns". Dante is also called the "Father of the Italian language".

He entered into Florentine politics in 1295, but he and his party were forced into exile in a hostile political climate in 1301. Taking asylum in Ravenna late in life, Dante completed his Divine Commedia, considered one of the most important works of Western literature, before his death in 1321.

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 and died in 1321.

Dante Alighieri has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Alba
  2. Bantam Classics
  3. Barnes & Noble Classics
  4. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy
  5. Dante's Divine Comedy
  6. Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri
  7. Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri
  8. Dover Thrift Editions
  9. Enriched Classics
  10. Galaxy Books
  11. Indiana Masterpiece Editions
  12. Inferno (Hell)
  13. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  14. New Verse Translation by Michael Palma
  15. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  16. Penguin Classics
  17. Signet Classics
  18. Word Cloud Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Poetry
4Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Unabridged
5Books > Audio CDs > Poetry & Drama
6Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Alighieri, Dante
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
9Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
10Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
11Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Purgatory?

Medieval vision of the afterlife  Apr 30, 2007
This was required reading for a graduate course in medieval history.
"The Divine Comedy" describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman epic poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and another of his works, "La Vita Nuova." While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and scholarship to understand. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa" - "at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

Dante wrote the Comedy in his regional dialect. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression, and simultaneously established the Tuscan dialect as the standard for Italian. In French, Italian is nicknamed la langue de Dante. Publishing in the vernacular language marked Dante as one of the first (among others such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio) to break from standards of publishing in only Latin or Greek (the languages of Church and antiquity). This break allowed more literature to be published for a wider audience - setting the stage for greater levels of literacy in the future.

Readers often cannot understand how such a serious work may be called a "comedy". In Dante's time, all serious scholarly works were written in Latin (a tradition that would persist for several hundred years more, until the waning years of the Enlightenment) and works written in any other language were assumed to be comedic in nature. Furthermore, the word "comedy," in the classical sense, refers to works which reflect belief in an ordered universe, in which events not only tended towards a happy or "amusing" ending, but an ending influenced by a Providential will that orders all things to an ultimate good. By this meaning of the word, the progression of Dante's pilgrim from Hell to Paradise is the paradigmatic expression of comedy, since the work begins with the pilgrim's moral confusion and ends with the vision of God.

The Divine Comedy can be described simply as an allegory: Each canto, and the episodes therein, can contain many alternate meanings. Dante's allegory, however, is more complex, and, in explaining how to read the poem (see the "Letter to Can Grande della Scala"), he outlines other levels of meaning besides the allegory (the historical, the moral, the literal, and the anagogical). The structure of the poem, likewise, is quite complex, with mathematical and numerological patterns arching throughout the work, particularly threes and nines. The poem is often lauded for its particularly human qualities: Dante's skillful delineation of the characters he encounters in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise; his bitter denunciations of Florentine and Italian politics; and his powerful poetic imagination. Dante's use of real characters, according to Dorothy Sayers in her introduction to her translation of "L'Inferno", allows Dante the freedom of not having to involve the reader in description, and allows him to "[make] room in his poem for the discussion of a great many subjects of the utmost importance, thus widening its range and increasing its variety."

Dante called the poem "Comedy" (the adjective "Divine" added later in the 16th century) because poems in the ancient world were classified as High ("Tragedy") or Low ("Comedy"). Low poems had happy endings and were of everyday or vulgar subjects, while High poems were for more serious matters. Dante was one of the first in the Middle Ages to write of a serious subject, the Redemption of man, in the low and vulgar Italian language and not the Latin language as one might expect for such a serious topic.

Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom, to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world (in Dante's time, it was believed that Hell existed underneath Jerusalem). The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere. At the shores of Purgatory, Dante and Virgil are attracted by a musical performance by Casella, but are reprimanded by Cato, a pagan who has been placed by God as the general guardian of the approach to the mountain. The text gives no indication whether or not Cato's soul is destined for heaven: his symbolic significance has been much debated. (Cantos I and II).

Dante starts the ascent on Mount Purgatory. On the lower slopes (designated as "ante-Purgatory" by commentators) Dante meets first a group of excommunicates, detained for a period thirty times as long as their period of contumacy. Ascending higher, he encounters those too lazy to repent until shortly before death, and those who suffered violent deaths (often due to leading extremely sinful lives). These souls will be admitted to Purgatory thanks to their genuine repentance, but must wait outside for an amount of time equal to their lives on earth (Cantos III through VI). Finally, Dante is shown a beautiful valley where he sees the lately-deceased monarchs of the great nations of Europe, and a number of other persons whose devotion to public and private duties hampered their faith (Cantos VII and VIII). From this valley Dante is carried (while asleep) up to the gates of Purgatory proper (Canto IX).

The gate of Purgatory is guarded by an angel who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter "P" (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante's forehead, abjuring him to "wash you those wounds within". The angel uses two keys, gold and silver, to open the gate and warns Dante not to look back, lest he should find himself outside the gate again, symbolizing Dante having to overcome and rise above the hell that he has just left and thusly leaving his sinning ways behind him. From there, Virgil guides the pilgrim Dante through the seven terraces of Purgatory. These correspond to the seven deadly sins, each terrace purging a particular sin in an appropriate manner. Those in purgatory can leave their circle whenever they like, but essentially there is an honors system where no one leaves until they have corrected the nature within themselves that caused them to commit that sin. Souls can only move upwards and never backwards, since the intent of Purgatory is for souls to ascend towards God in Heaven, and can ascend only during daylight hours, since the light of God is the only true guidance.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in literature and medieval history.

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