The beauty of Inferno was twofold – the imagery and the multitude of historic and cultural references. The beauty of Purgatorio was in the struggle and the redemption of Dante himself, coupled with some great imagery. In my opinion, Paradiso had very little that made the first two books so enjoyable. The imagery was not as piercing and the stages of Paradiso do not stand out in my mind only a month after reading it.I read a new Penguin edition and I believe the translator’s given and surname began with a K (Klein, perhaps?). This edition as not illustrated as planned, as I had packed all of my books into storage by this time. I found the best translator to be Ciardi and the best illustrator to be Dore. Ciardi seemed more fluid then the other two translations I read, and it was a good mix between being modern and accurate. Dryden’s translation was much stiffer and the recent penguin translation seemed to be oversimplified. Dante illustrations seemed to add so much depth to the work that I felt a void when they were not there. Even renowned artistic great, Blake, was not able to capture the essence of Dante (in my opinion)… making the Dore illustrations seem more profound in comparison.
Paradiso is frequently the Dante that most people do not read – and it’s my opinion that if you HAVE to miss one, this is the one to miss. However, I have heard from others that this is their favourite work, but since no one in my book club was able to get through all three in the month, I was the only one who could offer an opinion on it. I would suggest reading it for completeness and trying to read it with a Ciardi/Dore combination to get the most out of the text.