Monday, June 13, 2016

Divina Commedia: Inferno II

Wallace Fowlie's A Reading of Dante's Inferno (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981).

Having finished reading this guide, here's another handful of memorable insights.

". . . a man may lose his soul before he dies . . . and then, on earth, a devil inhabits the body until its natural death . . ." (page 207).

"The medieval world cultivated and protected a sense of mystery . . ." (page 220).

"No poet, no writer exists alone . . . they are one and many . . . Their art is not unique but comes from others who proceeded them and will be continued in others who come after . . ." (page 226).

"A river is eternal, and thus designates the permanence of man [humankind]. A river flows by and is never the same, and thus designates the mutability of man" (page 228). 
"In the unfolding of the Inferno, of [James Joyce's] Ulysses, and [Marcel Proust's] A la recherche, one human failing in particular is condemned, one trait that returns over and over again in the pages of the poem and the novels: the human will to power. When a man [person] finds himself in a position of power, he finds at the same time in those people who wait upon and for him both clear and disguised signs of suspicion and hatred. Power inevitably brings about its own collapse. To offset this insidious drive, Dante makes it clear that he needs Virgil, and that Virgil likewise needs Dante. A similar pattern of restriction and control is visible in Joyce's Stephen and Bloom, and in Proust's Marcel and Swann" (page 229). 

The poem underscores "the struggle of free will against forces that attempt to nullify it" (page 21). 

And finally: "These two themes, the unseen God and the development of selfhood, will never be lost sight of . . . " (page 21). 

And thus ends today's salute to Disco Inferno

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune. Illustrations by William Blake and Sandro Botticelli. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Love that illustration. I just came upon my copy of Inferno as I was reorganizing my books.

the walking man said...

Power? Only the insane or fully corrupt want to have the power as it is projected in this fools paradise. Paraphrasing Frost I say "I do not deny the inalienable right of any man to go to hell in his own way."