I wasn’t quite thirteen when I discovered Dante. I was instantly obsessed. I loved the way he inserted himself into his story so boldly, how rich a visual explosion he presented us, how all-consuming inferno, purgatory and paradise are.
As I grew older, I began to collect illustrated versions, favouring those with the art of Gustave Dore in them. Now, as an adult, I read The Divine Comedy from a new perspective: an historical one. How would it feel to be a Malatesta reading about Francesca and Paolo floating through Hell, or a Montefeltro witnessing Guido wrapped in flames. Or, as a Donati, knowing sweet-tempered Piccarda is forever at peace in Paradise.
Dante has been an inspiration to billions worldwide over the past 700 years. His work – whether you read the full thing, an abridged version, or even listen to a dramatization – is inspiration, faith and entertainment all at once and it’s definitely one to read.