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The Divine Comedy  By  cover art

The Divine Comedy

By: Dante Alighieri,Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - translator
Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
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Publisher's Summary

Dante's Divine Comedy is considered to be not only the most important epic poem in Italian literature, but also one of the greatest poems ever written. It consists of 100 cantos, and (after an introductory canto) they are divided into three sections. Each section is 33 cantos in length, and they describe how Dante and a guide travel through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Expertly translated here by the famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dante's masterpiece leaps vividly to life in this production.

Philosophically, the poem is based on the theological works of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Divine Comedy is essentially an allegory of the progress of the human soul toward God and the progress of mankind toward peace on earth. Many of the characters involved are drawn from ancient Roman history and from Dante's contemporaries, making the work a realistic picture of Italian life in the early 14th century. As well, it is an intensely developed analysis of human affairs. In structure the poem appears to be a description of the afterlife. But it is in essence, a compassionate, oral evaluation of humanity and a mystical vision of the Absolute toward which mankind struggles. The Divine Comedy endures today because of the universality of its drama and the lyric quality of the poetry, and not as the result of any doctrinal content.

Public Domain (P)2009 Audio Connoisseur

What listeners say about The Divine Comedy

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not for listening.

Longfellow was a wonderful poet, but the linguistic hoops he jumps through to preserve the form of the cantos leaves comprehension in the dust for the listener. Charlton Griffin can't save this muddle. It is almost incomprehensible at times. Almost everything in Italian rhymes, not so with English. One thing that is missing is comprehensive footnotes on the political background and personalities that Dante meets. Still, the language is beautiful, just don't expect to follow it in your car.

45 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Timeless poetry

This is a decent translation of the Comedy, though perhaps not my favorite. Griffin's narration moved the story along nicely without getting in the way, and the sound effects at the beginning of each canto contributed to the otherworldly atmosphere of the book.

28 people found this helpful

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Divine Comedy

The epic of all epics. Carlton Griffin is magnificent. His pronunciation and intonation made it so much more reachable.

23 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a Masterpiece!

This is a truly great tool for reading Dante's masterpiece. This, to my knowledge, is the only quality audiobook of The Divine Comedy, and it does not disappoint. I had to read it multiple times in order to get a familiarity with the narrative in order to do research for and write my undergraduate thesis. The translation of Dante's Commedia in this audio recording is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's English translation, a literary masterpiece by its own right. Its lyrical verse helps bring the epic poem to life for the English reader, and it made it easier for me to memorize large portions of the text by replaying it over and over again on this recording. I don't think I could have completed my thesis without this excellent, audio edition of one of the Western Canon's greatest texts. I actually first subscribed to Audible just to get this audiobook, and this alone has been worth the subscription. Couldn't recommend it more!

17 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good story told to put you to death

What disappointed you about The Divine Comedy?

The narrator failed to even keep me awake it was horrid

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love Dante I read the divine comedy several times when I was younger I got my husband to get it and he wanted to drive his car off of the road... I thought he was just exaggerating until I tried to listen to it and couldn't get through five minutes :/

14 people found this helpful

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Wonderful read

First off, I may not have made it through this book had it not been for the performance. It added a deep rich layer to this story. I think I got lost in the beauty of the narrator's voice as much as I did the beauty of the words.

Now, because it is written in poetic form you have to pay attention to the words. It isn't a book you can drift off in as easily as you can with any other book. Of course, that is why I made the comment above. It took focus on every word.

I was amazed at the imagination and detail of the realms of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven that was painted. That was my second most favorite part.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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My first digital book

Where does The Divine Comedy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Second only to the Bible

What did you like best about this story?

The final balancing of justice

What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

Very strong voice

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several, mainly in hell.

Any additional comments?

It is a little tough being in King James English...just push on thru and it will raise your mental view on life.

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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better on paper

the content does not lend itself well to audio format. great work of literature, but is enjoyment is found in slower contemplation and review of passages.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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When does the real poem start

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I listened to the preview and the story started out in the dark woods. What I am listening to is Dante's life history. when does the poem start. I don't want a personal history, but the art created by Dante.

What does Charlton Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

he's fine

Any additional comments?

I want to listen to his history totally different than the preview to the book. Why. and where is the story I am on section 9 chapter 27. I don't get it. Help

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Wasted Credit

What disappointed you about The Divine Comedy?

To anyone reading this, save your credit. I hated this listening to this book so much that I could not finish it. The narrator was completely monotone and the music along with the thunderstorm sounds made it worse. I actually wanted to listen to this classic but I think I will just read it in paper form instead.

Has The Divine Comedy turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. Just this narrator.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I did not finish it due to the boring narrator.

Any additional comments?

I usually like to read and listen to classical literature. However, this audiobook is one of the worst I have ever listened to. I would not recommend it to anyone.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 06-13-14

Dull!

I've given this two stars because it's famous, but that's it. I actually couldn't finish it. The imagery in inferno is interesting, but well known, but I was losing the will to live a few hours into the Paradiso. No wonder most people only read the first book! Nothing wrong with it as an audio book, I just blame Dante! So much of it is parochial politics, people Dante knew at the time which might be quite interesting if you knew who they were but without a lifetime of study, which I'm not prepared to do, I just couldn't get into it. Read the York notes instead!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Harry Leeming
  • 12-27-20

Impenetrable translation

The translation is obnoxiously Archaic. I’m not just talking about a few thous here and there. It reaches pre-shakespearean levels which actually makes an already difficult (if rewarding) text inaccessible and ruins the read. Listen to the translation by Robert Kirkpatrick instead.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Adam Sheridan
  • 04-14-17

I was completely lost

Not audibles fault but i hadn't a clue what was going on in the story

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dan Stepnens
  • 08-16-19

maybe it is the translation...

maybe it was the translation, but I found the poem exceedingly boring - the summary was more informative

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Random Spawn
  • 04-21-19

meh, disappointing.

this is not worth its cost, you get a woefully long start of what dante was doing before the poem with no explanation and it tells of things only a historian would know, and then be annoyed at how fast its recounted. it's drags on for what seems like an age. then you get a brief explanation of each part if the poem, this is good if you're a student.

2 people found this helpful

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  • LM C
  • 04-16-18

Beautifully done!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Divine Comedy to be better than the print version?

I like to think of it as a different experience. It's one of those masterpieces where you should definitely try both versions!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Person
  • 07-18-20

I have no idea why anyone is impressed by this

The poem consists of no conversations, no descriptions and essentially no details whatsoever. It is a series of very brief summaries such as: “then Dante met Vergil who guided him through hell” (not an actual line but is the kind in this poem). So we have no details about why Dante decided to follow Virgil, what kind of person Virgil is and whether they got on well or not.
This was a complete waste of money.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Rose
  • 10-05-19

york notes version of the divine comedy

This is a truly terrible translation of the divine comedy. yes its unabridged but it's pretty much the bullet points of each canto. dont buy it!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • B. Wilkinson
  • 09-24-22

An American trying to sound English.

Charlton Griffin tries his very best to sound "Shakespearean". I'm afraid he isn't very good.

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  • Sally King
  • 08-03-21

Impenetrable translation

I'm not sure why this translation was done in this way, it would benefit from a modern language translation. Much of the imagery was lost in trying to follow the sentence structure. Getting through this was a real slog, really not enjoyable. The narrator seemed to be putting on a faux English accent but not quite hitting some of the words quite right which jarred. avoid.

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  • Otras
  • 04-02-21

Is the editing a joke?

The editing simply ruins this reading. When I listened to the sample, I assumed the noises were just going to be at the beginning of the book. There are very long, loud, and cheesy noises at the beginning of each canto, which sometimes last well into the reading (which is pretty good as far as English readings of Dante go), but when the readings are actually interrupted by this terrible editing, I could not tolerate it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-09-20

Would give 6 stars if I could

Excellent but very difficult-to-read text, extremely well read. Full of emotion, contrast and authority. Brilliant!