Edited to add my impression after second reading. Still not really loving it, but in the other hand, my verse reading is warmed up! Reading The Purgatory should be less an effort.
I was totally out of my depth; like literally drowned by all the facts, allusions & things that made this book so wonderful to countless other people. This, despite the fact that the edition I read has footnotes galore, summary for each canto and if I feel like it, the original Italian text. And, the translation is done in contemporary English.
So, what happened?
1. I could be reading it at the height of my stupidity (those periods do come once in a while and the only thing I could understand would be 1 step up of children book)
2. The verse, I haven't read much of those; I think only Medea & that thing Atwood wrote about Penelope. I know I had difficulty catching up the rhyme and the story pacing. Funnily it was actually quite addictive. Finishing a canto made me want to read another one. Sometimes it's annoying when I know I wouldn't be able to touch the book again 'til after work. Now that I've read it once, though I haven't quite catch the pace, I'm interested to read through it once again just to get muscle going.
3. Dante persona, didn't really like him. He came of as someone writing the story to satisfy his whim, playing God in putting the poor souls to most imaginative torture. I'm ok with Virgil, though he's a poor bugger to be born too early for his own good.
4. The moral, which I found sometime a bit over the top. So all these poor shades are in Inferno for a reason, I get that. Nasty bunch all in all, probably deserved all that they've got now. But, that Dante did some righteous extra kick in the butt to some of them with blessing from Virgil, I feel a bit squeamish.. It's like stoning chicken thief, I feel.
5. Beatrice, though she haven't showed up yet, reading who she was in Dante's real life, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to meet her. I feel like she's going to be some idealized woman such as one sided love tend to create. Being a full of flaw person myself, I dread paragon of virtues on my reading.
6. The hopelessness of it all, because of course we were in Inferno. Perhaps this is what trigger most of my antipathy, the feeling of being stuck forever, no chance of improvement, for eternity. If it wouldn't give you a bout of chain smoking binge, I don't know what else could. So Dante succeeded in his goal, it got through me like a hammer on a head, even if other things didn't.
6 points of why I'd like to torch the book. And yet, being over it my instinct is to read through it again and see what I'd feel next. And I have the Purgatory trudging its way to library nearest to me. And, I can't commit in giving star for it. Go figure...
PS. maybe I should've buffer up on Virgil first.. or Dante's biography to have more background. Ah well, never mind...