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Long poems

infernoInferno
Dante Alighieri
(UK: Penguin Classics, 2013; USA: Signet Classics, 2009)

Describing Dante’s descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters many doomed souls before he is finally ready to meet the ultimate evil in the heart of Hell: Satan himself.

Recommended by:
Jane Johnson

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Inferno)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Inferno)

Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
Abolqasem Ferdowsi
(UK: Penguin Classics, 2016; USA: Penguin Classics, 2016)

Among the greatest works of world literature, this prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the late 10th century, tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the 7th century.

Recommended by:
Caroline Mawer, Writer and Researcher, Caroline Mawer (author website)
Caroline says: ‘This epic poem is a mix of myth and history, telling the early history of Iran. I had to include this ‘mirror for princes’: a series of stories for princes (and maybe you too) to learn from, while reading about love and conquests. The first half (or so) has lots of clever, multicultural princesses – the only thing the princes and kings have to do is listen to the smart women. Sadly, the men don’t all manage to do even this! Lots of Iranians know and love lots of these stories – I would suggest dipping in and out, rather than starting at the beginning and struggiing right through. The best translation is this one by Dick Davis.’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings)

Caroline’s first book will published in the UK by I B Tauris Academic (2017):
The Shah’s Road: One Woman’s Journey across Iran (UK pre-orders: ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon)