Dante for fun: kids books that retell the Inferno, Puragorio and Paradiso

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2014/02/18/dante-for-fun-kids-books-that.html

@doctorow: you have a typo there, it’s «purgatorio».

What I like best is that you are explaining it to your six year old.

You can never start your offspring too early on the inappropriate artsy stuff. My parents got me to march into Kindergarten with Walter Jens’ Iliad for Children and try to stage the Siege of Troy in wooden bricks.
For the eight grade classroom redecoration project, I somehow submitted a mural based on Purgatorio complete with mass crucifixions and a Michael Pacher devil, with my dad and the math teacher adding a “Lasciate ogni speranza” scroll over the entrance. Sadly, the more religious parents censored all the devils and torture bits…

Reminds me a bit of this comic book version of the Inferno. I recommend that one; it starts out slow, but gets quite good later on.

I was thinking of purchasing The Divine Comedy for some time but didn’t knew which translation - so thought of the one by Clive James (review). Is it better than the translation by John Ciardi (mentioned in the article) or not? Opinions?

The Robert and Jean Hollander translation is better, in my opinion: better verse (James is a bit free, which is lovely, but ignores the terza rima, whereas the Hollanders do not) and way better notes, really, an astounding plethora of notes, valuable to both the general reader and more specialized folks. The notes and other apparatuses get you quite close to Dante’s medieval theology and outlook, all without pearl-clutching over its Catholicism and antiquity and distance from our worldviews.

The Hollanders also include the Italian text, which is nice to have for comparison even if your Romance languages or Italian aren’t great. I’ve taught them to both undergrads and a Catholic nun, and they worked wonderfully.

The Ciardi translation is a bit dated, but quite serviceable: WW Norton used to publish it in a lovely little hardcover, which is how I first read Dante.


Very detailed info, thanks! Definitely getting the Hollander translation for the first read.

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This is one of the first serious works I tackled after reading Mortimer J Adler’s “How to Read a Book”. I was hoping that you wold show the end of the story, with Beathrice played by Daphne from “Scooby-Doo”, ripping the mask off of God, revealing the old groundskeeper.


Does the map of hell in the upper right look like a uterus to anyone else?

Yes. But I was really nervous about mentioning it in this forum.

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