Dan or Dante? – infernal confusion


Visitors to Amazon.com searching for modern editions of Dante’s 14th-century epic poem The Inferno may be surprised to read some of the reviews of the Kindle edition:

I have read all of Dan Brown‘s books and this does not disappoint! I especially like the way he lovingly describes the art and architecture of Europe. It makes me wish I could tour the places with book in hand!

Clearly the writer doesn’t realise that she is on the wrong webpage.  Another has received Dante when she ordered Dan, and protests:

I didn’t order Dante’s inferno. I ordered Brown’s Inferno and was sent the wrong book!

A third takes a more critical approach to Dan:

The first third to one half left me wondering if I should continue. The premise is great, but the travels through Florence are very tedious.

Even those who (apparently) know that they are writing about Dante make some unexpectedly consumerist comments: “Pretty quick read”, “Great product that has stood the test of time.”  One tries to reassure the reader that, though a classic, the poem won’t be too difficult:

The language is archaic but anyone can make it through no problem.

Another tries to clarify the distinction between Dante and Dan, and gives a fuller account of the difficulties a reader of the former may encounter:

This is Dante and intense reading which requires knowledge of Renaissance time period and some knowledge of Catholic theology.

This is more helpful than simple acclamation of Dante (or Dan?) as “one of my personal favorite writers of all time” who “will always be awe-inspiring”.

Most surprising, however, is the comment from a reader who warns, in the title to his review, “Don’t get it for info about hell!”  Apparently looking for a travel guide to the afterlife, this reviewer is disappointed:

I am well aware that this is considered one of the great classics of world literature. But if you just want to read for INFORMATION rather than poetic feel, etc., this is a waste of time.

A commentator on this review points out rather intemperately to the writer (whom she calls a “dolt”) that he has got the genre wrong.  “Of course the language is literary – it’s an EPIC POEM!”

Humorous confusion can be found in the deepest circles of the internet.

Read and listen to Rowan Taw’s poem Can’t tell their Dan from their Dante.