Discovering Dante's Inferno

If it is true that Italian comes from Dante as much as English from the plays of Shakespeare and the 1611 King James Bible, there is no better work to get acquainted to Italian culture than Dante’s Divine Comedy, which has the advantage of presenting itself as an encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages and providing its readership with the most comprehensive synthesis of Medieval culture. This short course will tackle the first third (or realm) of Dante's Divine Comedy: the Inferno. While its violent and often sexual content has tickled the imagination of readers for centuries, an attentive reading will return the image of an artist whose craftmanship was equally unparalleled in forging words and producing images, which inspired artists from Sandro Botticelli to Peter Greenaway to visualise Dante’s vision. A selection of cantos from this realm of Dante’s voyage in the afterlife will be read and commented upon by reading the text in English translation and at times comparing it with the original Italian.


  • Online


  • John A. Scott, Understanding Dante (University of Notre Dame Press 2004)
  • Prue Shaw, Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity (Liveright 2014)
  • Dante, The Divine Comedy, translated by Clive James (Liveright 2013)

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