Author(s): Ian Thomson
As a singer of other-worldly horror and celestial beatitude alike, Dante has no equal. Yet, in spite of our distance from medieval theology, the Florentine poet's allegorical journey through hell, purgatory and paradise remains one of the essential books of mankind. At least fifty English language versions of the 'Inferno' - the first part of Dante's epic - appeared in the twentieth century alone.
If Dante's Comedyspeaks to our present condition, it is because Dante wrote the epic of Everyman who sets out in search of salvation in this world. And he wrote his great poem in the ordinary Italian of his time. He wrote about suffering bodies and human weakness, and about divine ecstasy, in words that have resonated with readers and writers for the last 700 years.