In honor of the new video game out today, Dante’s Inferno, I’m reviewing one of my most favorite books: The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri. There are a million different translations out there, but my favorite are the ones edited by John Ciardi.

The Divine Comedy

I first read these books the summer between high school and college. I actually read The Inferno, which follows Dante on his journey through Hell, during my first ever flight–I felt like I was reading what would happen to me when I died, because I was sure the plane was going to crash.

The Divine Comedy is broken into three books: The Inferno (hell), The Purgatorio (purgatory) and The Paradiso (heaven). Through the three part journey Dante’s character goes on, the growth and salvation of man is seen–he starts out angry, scared and suspicious, but eventually goes to heaven with the help of an angel and true, pure love. Honestly, and I may be a bad person for this, I found The Inferno to be the only truly interesting book of the three. Maybe it’s just my evil human nature coming through, but hell just seemed like such a better story line.

These books are some of the most influential literature written, and although some of the grammar and word choice may be a bit off at times (it is translated from an older form of Italian, after all), the great detail and depth Dante puts into the characters is worth the struggle. If anything, reading The Inferno is worth it for the ability to freak yourself out on a long plane ride!