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The Divine Comedy

Written by: Dante Alighieri,Stephen Wyatt
Narrated by: Blake Ritson,John Hurt,David Warner,Hattie Morahan,Full Cast
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Publisher's Summary

Blake Ritson, David Warner, Hattie Morahan and John Hurt star in this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Dante's epic poem.

Inferno: Thirty-five year old Dante finds himself in the middle of a dark wood, in extreme personal and spiritual crisis. Hope of rescue appears in the form of the venerable poet Virgil, now a shade himself, who offers to lead Dante on an odyssey through the afterlife, beginning in the terrifying depths of Hell.

Purgatorio: Dante is led up Mount Purgatory by his guide. They encounter numerous souls who have embarked on the same difficult journey - one that will eventually lead to their spiritual salvation.

Paradiso: Dante's journey comes to a glorious conclusion as he is led by Beatrice, through the spheres of Paradise and into the presence of God himself. As they ascend, they encounter a number of souls who have also achieved blessedness. Many years later, the older Dante reflects on the episodes from his life that have inspired his great poem.

©2014 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2014 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

What listeners say about The Divine Comedy

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Nice narration

It is good in terms of radio drama. But if you really want to listen complete deatailed dante poem, don't waste your credit here

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely Brilliant

The performance, the pace and everything is amazing. Great work of fiction narrated by great narrators.

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awesome

now words needed to describe the experience simply put it magnificent as it is

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Astounding

A brilliant adaptation of Divine Comedy with stellar performances and immersive score that makes for an unforgettable experience.

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  • SM
  • 23-08-19

Exquisite

Terrific dramatisation. Dante comes alive as does hell, purgatory and heaven. Thank you to the producers and cast.

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Superb production of an epic


At a loss for how good this is. I have not read Dante's The Divine comedy so this seemed a good place to start. And what a stunning performance from the cast and superb sound design by BBC team. I don't think this can be surpassed. Thank you BBC

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  • Adeliese Baumann
  • 21-10-16

Revisiting the land of the dead

My last year's reading has mostly been on things Italian and in the Italian language. Still, I regret to say I haven't picked up Dante in thirty years, so when I saw this title, I reacquainted myself with this incredible work of art.

Naturally, a radio broadcast can't cover the whole spectrum of the poem, and translations are apt to miss a few things, but as a dramatic production, it's first rate. All actors are superb --- David Warner in particular has an incredible voice and impeccable timing --- and the situations are beautifully rendered. I enjoyed every minute.

Listening to this inspired me to listen to Clive James' translation of the Divine Comedy, read by Edoardo Ballerini. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to investigate further. Ballerini's reading is particularly enchanting.

44 people found this helpful

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  • Nicole
  • 08-11-14

A great introduction to The Divine Comedy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a great way to get a gist of The Divine Comedy. It's beautifully narrated with different voices for different characters. When you add the sound effects and different cool effects you get a whole experience that really pulls you into the story. You don't think that the story is being told to you. Instead you feel like you are right there with Dante going through the same experiences that he is.

What did you like best about this story?

As it's The Divine Comedy, the story speaks for itself. What I liked the best was how you never knew what was going to happen but knew that it was going to affect you greatly. It feels real and you honestly fear for Dante's life even though you know that nothing bad is going to happen to him. This trilogy is very graphic and pulls on your emotions as it looks at major theological and philosophical questions. You never really get bored.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

It was a full cast which was great. You get that full on experience of living there. I loved that so much! It really honestly felt as if you were there because of that. Instead of one narrator doing different voices of characters. Even the older Dante is played by a different voice actor. I loved that older Dante was played by John Hurt but I didn't recognize who did the voice of the younger Dante. It has been stated that Dante was a symbol of the every man. So having it not be a recognizable actor, at least to me, added in its brilliance.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Experience the three realms of the afterlife like never before...in stunning 3D.

Any additional comments?

I do want to note that this is abridged from the source material. It's a dramatization and skips cantos. This can be annoying especially as there are cantos that I thought they would not skip. There was one spectacular action sequence from Infierno that they skipped that shocked me. It was one that should have been here. Even with that it's a great dramatization. This is a great thing to listen to if you want the main gist or read the whole comedy and want to hear it. I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in The Divine Comedy.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-03-20

Completely skips 2 circles of hell

The narrator goes from circle IV (greed) and skips straight to circle VII (Violence) and doesn't cover at all Circles V and VI

19 people found this helpful

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  • Eric Kitzmiller
  • 26-01-15

Awesome

I'm 14 and I loved this book. It met every expectation. I just loved it so much it was amazing

7 people found this helpful

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  • CHET YARBROUGH
  • 09-12-18

MASTERFUL TRANSLATION

Superb cast. Translation is always a concern but the essence of this classic seems well captured to this ignorant English only listener.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Melone
  • 27-05-16

a great synopsis of the Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy has always been one of my favorite book series. This audio recording does a fine job of summarizing the trilogy, but sadly lacks a lot of detail I enjoyed in the original works. Key points, like the Devil's three heads, people met throughout the books, and the like are missing. If you are considering reading the Divine Comedy this will serve as a fantastic introduction, but if you truly enjoy it I would highly suggest the original works.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jeffery
  • 12-11-19

Priceless Read for All Christians

As a Catholic, Dante has begun to have a profound effect on me as I study and embrace my renewed faith after years as a self aggrandizing atheist with a self-entitled sense of adept philosophy. I do wish Audible hosted more great Catholic works. But I look forward to when they do.

3 people found this helpful

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  • thomas m.
  • 23-06-17

Great summary but not a good source for analysis.<br />

loved the acting but felt that it didn't grasp the entire comedy tone. Considerating the constraints of a dramatization, i got a good feeling for the plot, but not the fear and visuals that exist in the comedy. One should read those aswell to fully appreciate the comedy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Reader
  • 05-08-16

Amazing.

fantastic, always thought this poem would be boring and dry but it was entertaining, enlightening, and very well done. listen to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • j_avispa
  • 02-06-21

Abridged, darn!

I chose this version by accident. Thought it was an unabridged version. I still enjoyed the listening considering the bits left out. If you want a quick listen I’d recommend this abridged version as the performance of the readers did well.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Andyjn
  • 06-01-16

Very good

I first listened to this when it was broadcast on the radio. It is very enjoyable and have listened to it many times. I would recommend it to anyone.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 11-08-16

Fantastic Read

The performances were amazing. Gives real insight into Christians and non-Christians. Really makes you think!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Zach Bromfield
  • 12-07-20

Simply transcendant

Fully realised adaptations of stories in audiobook form are becoming a new form of entertainment for me and BBC Radio has done a splendid job once again with this abridged adaptation.
John Hurt’s narration adds a reverential and sagely aspect as an older Dante who bridges the gaps between the story’s narrative with his younger self told in flashbacks and the present in which he elaborates on the context of his life in exile, adding history to help ground the narrative. The sound design is spot on and each voice talent truly helps bring a visceral and real element to the story of Dante’s mythical journey through Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. Truly immersive, from the sounds of the beasts and fires of hell to the full choir and soprano singers at the end when Dante ascends to Paradise and meets God.
Highly recommend at a good price or as a token purchase!

4 people found this helpful

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  • S. Evans
  • 14-05-17

Wonderful adaptation

I have not read the original and in sure that if I had, I would have reservations about what must have been huge cuts, but as an experience in its own right, this is superb. Rich in imagery but never intimidating. Very approachable. And navigates some of the moral certainties of dante which a modern reader might find challenging, with great finesse. Congratulations to all involved.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-01-21

The Devine Comedy

Wonderful story telling, I listened in conjunction with Gustave's Dore illustrations, again wonderful drawings bringing the whole story alive.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dazler
  • 05-08-15

Disappointing

Any additional comments?

This audio-book just did not do it for me. I know it's supposed to be a classic but I just found it ridiculous!

2 people found this helpful

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  • staghound
  • 05-09-22

Fantastic Dramatisation

Just to say how much I enjoyed this and I'm sure you will too! I'm just starting to read Comedia and this provides a vivid summary of the overall work. Marvelous, yes iI. seeking out lectures and reading commentary , etc etc but nothing can prepare you for the genius of what Dante attempted and achieved in this work .. this dramatisation is a worthy precursor to reading and studying the work and an emotional tour de force ! sit back and enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jon H
  • 23-06-22

Brilliant

Sad it was so short but very very good! The voice cast is fantastic and John Hurt is just brilliant

1 person found this helpful

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  • Julie M.
  • 20-08-21

Brilliantly read by all the actors!! Bravo!!

I’d highly recommend this book. I’ve been trying to read it for 20 years but have found it difficult. This audio version is amazing and really drags you into the story with wonderful actors, background noises and music.
The time passes so quickly

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  • markj
  • 10-03-21

Stunning

I’ve read the Divine Comedy, in translation, a number of times: it is an astounding work.
This dramatised version is wonderful for giving a sense of the whole and its deep layers of meaning.
Wholeheartedly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-01-19

Wow!

I discovered this through a YouTube review of the movie 1408 and the depths the "psychological horror" can delve. It spoke of the parallels between the movie and the divine comedy (which I had never heard of). I went on Wikipedia to learn more about its origins, which led me here to listen to the dramatisation.

This being written in 1308 is mind blowing! The divine comedy is rich in imagination which I did not expect. It makes a lot of literature and modern movies seem pretty sub-standard by comparison.

Despite the heavily Christian undertones (ever present) this epic is brilliant. I can see a lot of this being reflected/copied in today's works, which shows how impactful it is and will most likely continue to be.

The actors in this are amazing and the sound effects are great. I started questioning myself after reading this so I guess it's now left it's mark on me too.

If you're not religious and can put aside the religious nature of this story (like me), you will be rewarded by it's structure, story, characters and it's intended purpose (hopefully). What a wonderfully beautiful epic!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Glenda Walters
  • 15-07-18

Wow, exceeded all expectations!

The most amazing Audible book, or should I say performance!
Being a Dan Brown fan I had heard of Dante's Divine Comedy so thought I'd see what it was about.
Even though some of the themes are very old religious ideas, the general message is still applicable today and it's an amazing way to describe our human failings!
Both a great entertaining story and a much deeper spiritual experience!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-12-21

amazing

this was nothing short of incredible the story was amazing and the voices are astonishing

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-11-18

entertaining listen

feel like a bit of the detail in the book was lost in the translation to a play, but fantastic as none the less

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tri Tran
  • 20-01-23

Absolute masterpiece

I think Dante would be speechless for this dramatisation of his epic poem. I thoroughly enjoyed every part especially Hell, definitely had a good dose of British wit. Stellar performance by the cast and immersive experience through music and sound design. Well done to everyone involved in the making.

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  • Luke Martins
  • 17-01-23

Amazing

Speaks to the soul, seriously only gets better as the chapters go on. Would 100% recommend!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-12-22

Just Beautiful

Just a joy to listen to. I hope to hear more like this as was such a moving performance.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-02-22

Phenomenally performed, lacklustre after Inferno

it's gripping, it's funny, it's got heaven, hell and purgatory inbetween. So why was it so lame?

The Divine Comedy starts off intensely strong, it will hook you to the end; however you realise that the poet Dante Alighieri stops being an exciting character the moment he stops being scared of everything in hell. Which is the start of chapter 2.

He simps for Lady Beatrice for most of the final chapter, and the only redeeming part of entertainment is when he's blinded by the light of Christ and goes fucking crazy.

Overall is was a fun listen, extremely well performed and had a few notable side characters. Key word being "few". I do recommend it if you're like me- interested to see what the fuss is about. You won't be disappointed, but it won't change your faith either.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-21

Extraordinary

For a story to survive from the 1300s, you can know that it is universal in its appeal, covering a human’s journey of learning from life’s harsh events, leading to evolution and enlightenment. Excellent direction, performance and sound design.

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  • Tom
  • 19-11-20

Paradiso all the way

AMAZING! phenomenal performances from the whole cast, the abridged dramatisation really brought the work to life and made the comedia, which can be quite dense and complex, effortless and enjoyable to follow along with.