If anyone says that Joseph Lanzara is attempting to replace Dante Aleghieri's famous Inferno-- Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell)--I would have to say that this simply isn't true. Lanzara's comic book version of Dante's allegorical poem reminds me of the old Classics Illustrated Comics that I collected as a kid. Indeed, these whittled down, illustrated renditions of notable works of literature persuaded young and reluctant readers to savor mini-versions of great artistry and rather than deter them from exploring the real deal later on, abbreviated versions like Classics Illustrated act as burning embers do to eventually fan a lasting flame. My first reading experiences were sitting on the floor of my cousin's bedroom, going through his vast collection of Classics Illustrated Comics and vying with my brother and other cousins for which one he was going to allow me to take home and fully read. This competitive spirit fostered an entire lifetime of reading pleasure.
In this case, Lanzara is introducing his reader not only to the great Dante and to Virgil, his guide, but to the Gustave Dore drawings that epitomize this epic masterpiece. In a scant thirty-pages, Lanzara recreates the Inferno and takes you on a whirlwind tour of the beautiful art that quintessentially represents the piece with winged angels and the woebegone denizens that populate Dante's unique brand of hell.
Lanzara doesn't need to modernize his text. He sticks to Henry Francis Cary's translation, peppering the Dore etchings with famous words the evoke the major story line magnificently.
Bottom line? Joseph Lanzara takes a "classic" tale out of the old Classic Illustrated Comic Book series in his recreation of "Dante's Inferno." Illustrated by the great master engraver Gustave Dore, Lanzara cannot go wrong. He presents an abbreviated but thoroughly adequate introduction into the classic tale where Dante blasts the authorities of his day that should urge his readers on to exploring the masterpiece in the original format. Recommended. Diana Faillace Von Behren "reneofc"
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