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This is an excellent recording that rectifies most of the negatives in the reviews of the other options. It's a great introduction to Dante that will either satisfy your curiosity about "The Divine Comedy" or lead you to more in-depth study afterward.
Having sought a good recording of "The Divine Comedy" for some time, this recent release was welcome. Much of what one likes or dislikes about recordings of classic verse depends on the translation, the narrator, and other variables. This one worked well for me in that I enjoy the narrator (and have bought other recordings because I like his voice), that it is unabridged, and that the translation is pleasing to listen to (although it is prose and does not mimic the original's terza rima).
Each cantica is preceded by an author's note about its structure; each canto has a brief narrative overview. This makes it an excellent choice for first-time readers and/or people who want to read it without devoting a great deal of study to the process. That said, many people would say that "The Divine Comedy" requires a great deal of study,and that a footnoted, print edition is requisite. (I think not, depending upon one's interest, but some of the structure notes -- and biographical references -- would be more accessible in print.) It is perfectly listenable and one need not take a course to grasp the main points and see how it influenced later literature.
My only complaint -- and this is because I listen to several classics over and over -- is that there is no convenient way to listen to it from start to finish without the cantica and canto introductions. After one understands the processions, listening to just the verse would be a nice option.
"Excellent Reading, Odd Notes"
This is an excellent program, which comes mysteriously, with footnotes. The notes themselves are very useful as any reading of Dante is impossible without a third party to guide you along the first time. Many of the people he meets with along his journey are very, very obscure (not even a professor of Medieval Italian history would know them all from memory). However, the format is not always clear as to when the notes end and the text begins. I have read the Comedy more times than I can remember, but even I was momentarily confused at times as to who was speaking. I wish there was one reader for the text and another for the notes, or that the chapter breaks fell regularly between the notes and the poem itself, if nothing else, for clarity.
"Nicely Read, Pretty Translation"
First and foremost, I like being able to follow along to audio books with my eyes, when possible. This Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed version is a little obscure, but can be checked out at Open Library. (Note that the book and the audio book don't match up until a few pages in - the audio book skips over the biography information in the first author's note.)
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I really like the narrative and reading - it's very flowing and well-done. It is true that each Canto leads in with a quick summary as to what is about to happen - and I found these very helpful as a listener, but it would have been more helpful if it were easier to tell the difference between the reader's "summary voice" and "reading voice". There IS a difference between his inflections, but it's VERY subtle. Overall, though, I really like this audio book version of The Divine Comedy and feel like the two parts together were worth the two credits.
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~ Ana Mardoll
"The Divine Comedy"
I had no problem with the transition from Canto synopsis to the Canto itself. The style of language is very different and the narrator/reader does pause. I found this recording very satisfying.
My complaint about most audible products is the difficulty to find a specific point in the text. For example, where does Canto 17 start? I suggest giving readers a separate text index of what time Chapters, Cantos, and Tales start. Even if one knows the text, finding a chapter is hit and miss.
He read like he was telling a tale, rather than reading a book. It takes a little effort for a modern reader / listener to understand the old fashioned language but his pace is the perfect balance. He's slow enough that you are able to process and understand but not so slow that it's condescending or dragging. He clearly understood what he was reading and used inflection masterfully to help convey emotion, meaning, and intention.
Some other reviews complained about the reader adding in descriptions. This is how the Divine Comedy is written by Dante. If you're looking to add the Divine Comedy to your cannon you can't go wrong with this performance.
This is an absolutely wonderful prose to begin with and then you add the narration WOW!
This exemplifies there the Narrator is all-important; Loved his reading style.
"Classic somewhat inscrutable literature"
This is classic Christian poetry at its finest, but requires a high level of focus to really absorb. Cosham did a good job narrating, but not great, (came across a bit dry and monotonous at times) but in all fairness bringing this ancient text to life is the highest level of difficulty. I found it deeply enriching and a fascinating look at the old world.
"Ruined Poetic value"
In between every canto the reader narrates a description formed form outside the text to let the reader know what is going on. What's amazingly annoying is that the reader don't give you any clue as to when he is reading the test directly as compared to the analysis. Also the narrator don't have a suitably fluid voice to be reading one of the six greatest written works of all time.
At first I thought, "it's just me, I'm too dumb to get it."
So, I started the reading over and over and over again. But after many attempts, I decided (my acuity and intelligence notwithstanding) that the presentation of this material is very poor; I could not tell where one thought ended and the next began. I believe that the reader did not know either.
I would skip this rendering. There is another unabridged version on Audible. Try that.
"Very Very Good"
It's the Divine Comedy. Its extremely well translated, I don't know how much is lost in translation. Certainly the rhyming structure so it stops being a poem and becomes prose but I didn't care about that.
He doesn't really have characters, just Dante and he did a good job, if a tad monotone.
Laugh and go how the *beep* did he get that past the pope.
Extremely frustrated with the canto structure. Explanation of the canto then the canto then another explanation. kills the momentum. but stick with.
"A roller coaster of scenes and language"
The first part really put down the groundwork and was so good I could listen to the last two much slower parts
The obsession with Beatrice and describing her "divine beauty" every other canto would have helped. Some phrases or states of mind got very repetitive
I think that would be too much, at least split it into three parts and only listen to the last two if you really really enjoyed the first one (Hell)
Somewhat split emotions when it comes to this book.
First part (Hell) was absolutely amazing, it was so gripping I got several chills down my spine. Would give it 8/10
Second part (Purgatory) was slow and repetitive, felt like Dante collected names just to spread their word once he returned. Would give it 4/10
Third part (Paradise) was very geometrical and complex, lots of patterns and angels who emerges from pure light. Little to the trippy side and enjoyable. Would give it 6/10
Overall all three books would get a 6/10 and I could only recommend all if you really enjoy the first part.
I would not recommend this. The narrator sounds as if he has a bad cold.
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