Lent starts next week, so what better time to get your hands on a book about sinners, in their infinite variety, and where they end up? The gates of Hell open onto what some might consider the worst of the lot – the ones who can’t commit to anything, good or evil.
And so the descent begins. I’ve been an Alasdair Gray fan ever since he popped up on my reading list as a Glasgow student. His illustrations and design really make his books distinctive, and this is no exception. But this is the first translation of his that I’ve read. One needs guts to take on Dante, and make it one’s own. The Inferno is seven hundred years old next year, and as Gray says in his preface, there are more than one hundred English versions already, although “unlike the Bible, no governments have promoted one excellent translation.” Maybe the Scottish government would like to patronise this one? And I wonder who their devils might be?
I wolfed this translation down, it was so enjoyable. Gray is working on “decorating and Englishing” Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso next, I hope they’ll be as much fun.