Monday, January 17, 2011

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri (Book Review)

Do you believe in hell? If you're going to ask me that what I'm going to say is I'm trying to believe, the same as I am trying to believe there was God. God and hell are connected. God created hell to homed his fallen angel Satan. Anyway that's not what my blog post about.

I bought a book from a local store. The book is "The Inferno" written by Dante Alighieri. It's a classic literature, a poetry, famed for its divine comedy, and it's not really my type genre at first but I'm satisfied after reading it. Ask me why I bought the book? I stumble upon to a video streaming site and found an animated film based from a game in Playstation Portable (PSP). For more details about the game titled "Dante's Inferno" for PSP, see product details below:

The animated film that I'm talking about is based from the game promoted above. I have no idea that it was based from the book not until I've watched the film. I realized this was Dante Alighieri's story of divine comedy after watching the film (i reminisced the literature subject, college days). And because of my amusement after watching the film, It drives me to search and research about the book. About the animated film, see details below:

I've been to a local bookstore, and found titles of Dante Alighieri's book with different publishers. I compared which of the publishers is better and with good analysis I find Signet Classics (Penguin Group) a good one. What I like about the book is that it has a notes in every end of cantos (chapter), the notes is a further comprehension of what the chapter is all about. You know, reading a poem with so in-depth meaning, so metaphorical, various mythical, and quite biblical is a pain. Thanks to the translator of the book John Ciardi, I find it easy to understand the meaning of every stanza in every cantos. Buy a copy at, see product below:


   The Inferno:   

Reading "The Inferno" will let you foresaw the image of hell. "The Inferno" is a story of Dante's journey in hell with the company of Virgil. The Dante in the story is the same name of Dante Alighieri which is the author of the book. About his company Virgil (a roman poet) - he is kind of a consciousness of Dante. Dante's journey is like a snake & ladder game where he steps level-by-level where every level is called "Circle". Every circle has their specific purposes for sinners. If for example you committed a murder against someone then you'll be in "Circle VII: Round One" which you will take a spa of boiling blood. Every circle has their sub-levels with different punishment depending on the degree of your sin. And in some circles sub-levels has different names (refer to figure "The Classification of Sin in Lower Hell" below).

In the book, Dante's description of hell are blended with mythological characters mostly coming from Greek mythology. Greeks in the time of Dante Alighieri were pagans in the eyes of the Christians so it's natural to see a Minotaur, Charon, etc. in the book.

Dante wrote "The Inferno" comprehensively as if he went there. He even add an illustrations and maps. If you are reading books by heart, you will notice it, you'll notice Dante's vast imagination blended with faith to God. See the images below, sample illustration from the "The Inferno":

Hell - First Seven Circles
Reviewer's Note: "Familiarize the map. In case you go to hell you'll not miss directions."

The Classification of Sin in Lower Hell
Reviewer's Note: Check your sin here and see what punishment hell can offer to you.

Hell - Eighth Circle
Reviewer's Note: Sub-level of the previous Circle, it means you are near from the location of Satan.

Hell - Ninth Circle (Cocytus) - Satan
Reviewer's Note: This is Dante's description of Satan - three faces: with face of Judas Iscariot,  Brutus, and Cassius. The essential explanation about the three faced beast is that it is seen as perversions of the qualities of the Trinity according from the book.

Dante's journey doesn't end here because it is kind of trilogy thing. Dante Alighieri wrote three books, and "The Inferno" is just the first. The second would be followed by Purgatory and I need to read it in some time. And also I bet you know the last one - the heaven? No, the third is "Paradiso" the end part of the book.

So see you then in my next book review. ^_^


  1. I have been excited about reading this at one point in my life. It is a good thing you gave me a glimpse of what has to be expected about the book. I had to open each pictures you have attached to this post to see them clearly. Nice review! See you in hell.

  2. argh! dami trabaho sa office! ill get back to this post and read it. i think the book is a good read too.

  3. so do you believe him? still, the bible can give us the best description of what we are going to face in judgment day. reading that 'might' corrupt us with what we already believed in.

    interesting. guess im gonna buy one for myself. although i prefer not to read books that 'might' compromise my faith with God (like dan brown's - but i read it still).

    nice review you have here. (can i just borrow the book instead?) hehe

  4. @neutraluniverse ~
    I've read an interesting notes from the book (I'll spoil a little; can't help it): "75. the center of all weight: . . . Symbolically, it is the focal point of all guilt. Gravity, weight, and evil are equivalent symbols on one level; they are what ties man to the earth, what draws him down."

    @sub ~
    In Dante's system the translator noted "to deny God is the beginning of Violence, Bestiality, and Fraud; and it is these sins which are punished below." Dante Alighieri (the writer) is a kind of Christian writer and the book won't compromise your faith with God. Do you really want to borrow it? Uhmmm, btw, I'm rating Dante's Inferno 6/10. To be honest, I get sleepy when I read poems and I also had the same effect by reading Dante's Inferno. If you really want, I can lend it to you. I'm around Makati. Give me a reply so I will know.

  5. yey! yup yup i really want to borrow it :D not because i love reading poems but i liked your review. i also want to know his POV about hell. oh well, i might get sleepy reading it too :P

    i dont know how to go to makati by commute,really. im here in manila. sta. mesa to be exact. XD. ill email you my contact :D

  6. How about I get the book from makati (so that I can read it for a while) and lend it to you Sub? Or is this just my desperate attempt to get hold of the book and peek?

  7. Otli, Thank you for the book review!

  8. @sub ~ should I lend it to NU first?
    NOTE: NU - NeutralUniverse .\m/ ^_^ Cool.

    @neutraluniverse ~ Hi, where we can possibly meet in Makati? Will it be ok to you if we meet at midnight? I believe you are also working at night . . . am I right? :-)

    @Reut ~ thanks. ^_^