As I write this review, I realize the link presented is not necessarily the translation I read. That said, The Divine Comedy has entertained and inspired artists for hundreds of years. The apocalyptic and hellish visions of Hieronymus Bosch and many others seem to be given their first light in Dante Alighieri‘s work. On one level, this is hard to recommend because it isn’t a particularly fun read, nor an easy one.
This book, I feel, is more relevant to both visual artists, writers, and perhaps even musicians that are looking for some thematic abstractions to imbue into their own works. Many artists that are even featured on this site, whether inspired directly by Dante or one of Dante’s derivative ‘inspirees’ work in a tradition (whether acknowledged or not) that has existed for almost 700 years.
Whether you as an artist of any medium decides to try and get through this book from beginning to end, or to play it like a roulette wheel and see what words of Dante conjure up a feast for the imagination… there is much to be gained here, even if only as a reference.
The pictures Dante presents with his words are chilling to say the least, and the literary device he uses to take the reader on his journey (of it being a type of dream/vision) give the work a mystical nature that makes the work timeless regardless of how its presented. It’s a definite recommend, though not for entertainment, but inspiration. The way Mr. Miyagi makes Daniel wash those cars in The Karate Kid is a decent way of making one’s approach to this book. You may not enjoy it while you’re in the midst of it, but you’ll find it useful later on — when the time is right.