I wanted to join Richard’s Dante readalong this summer, I really did. I decided that, since I loved reading Homer’s The Iliad and was planning on reading Virgil soon, I could read Dante this summer without too much trouble. Why not? I love classic epics.
I read up on the whys behind each translation, I got four different translations from the library, and I compared them. I decided on the Hollander translation, and I began reading. To my surprise, I understood every single word. It was beautiful! To my further surprise, I was bored to death. I had no idea what was going on. Let me rephrase that: due to the extensive notes, I know what is going on. I just cannot care less for it. I see no point.
I have read more than half of Inferno, and I’ve decided I am done for now. I suspect that this is one of those cases in which I’m reading at the wrong time in my life. I’ll try again in a few years.
Nevertheless, I’ve added Dante to my “Intimidation List.” This is my Books I Want to Read Before I Turn 40 list. That gives me 10 and a half years to get up the gumption to give it a try again. I may decide, in the next ten years, that I don’t really want to read the entire Divine Comedy, but I definitely will give Inferno another go at a different point in my life. Maybe summer, for one, is the wrong season.
Other works on the list right now:
- The Aeneid by Virgil. (I loved Homer, but have put off Virgil for some reason. After Dante, I’m even more intimidated.)
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Dante’s Divine Comedy
- Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (again, I may only read the first, but I will read it!)
I intend to add to this list as needed, but I certainly hope to be able to cross some of these off. For instance, my classics book club is likewise intimidated by War and Peace so we’re all going to read that in the coming year. Yeay! One down, many more to go.
Which books intimidate you but you still really want to read at some point?