Would I Understand The Inferno?

I’ve been catching up on classics, and tonight while pursuing a different topic I looked up something Dante said in his famous Inferno. Noodling around the work I started thinking that maybe I should read that thing. It has informed a lot of pop culture; I’d guess more than anything else of that age.

But would I get it? I’ve read that Dante names names. Scandal ensued. Or not, I just hear things. But I won’t know any of those names. I really don’t know much at all about the context surrounding the work, and my understanding is that The Inferno is almost as context-sensitive as satire. Hell, maybe it is satire.

Maybe even if I don’t get it, I’ll be transported by the (translation of) the language. Maybe. But I get the feeling that’s not why people read Dante. If anyone actually does anymore.

Yet this thing has been so influential that I have to wonder. It was on a shelf in my house growing up, since before I can remember (or do I vaguely remember Dad reverently shelving the library of great works for the first time?). But has anyone out there read The Inferno? Or tried to read it and run away screaming? I’d really like to hear what you thought.

17 thoughts on “Would I Understand The Inferno?

  1. Rather than read the library of classics all cloth-bound on the Shelf of Honor in the living room, I worked through the stacks of Analog and Astounding my father lovingly archived. And here I am.

  2. I think it is long. We had to read one part in a humanities class in college and I don’t remember anything else. But we didn’t read the whole thing. (if it turns out to be short, then oy I really don’t remember it at all).
    As a personal thing, I like to look for annotated classics (not that I read many). It is nice to have some scholar explaining something right in the margins. Like that Dante loved Beatrice, but she was already married (or something). Ha! I remember that!

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