Kalliope's Reviews > Divina Comedia

Divina Comedia by Dante Alighieri
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it was amazing
bookshelves: italy, fiction-italian, fiction-spanish, classics, 2014
Read 3 times. Last read May 16, 2014.





THE DARING, somewhat COMIC, and also DIVINE, INVENTIO


It is very difficult not to be lured by the highly intelligent craft of Durante degli Aliguieri (DA). And may be it is not a coincidence that he was the exact contemporary of Giotto, his fellow Florentine. For if Giotto planted the seed for a pictorial representation of the world in which man, at the center, and through a window, delivers to us a naturalistic depiction of divine stories, Dante also used his writing to posit himself as the Author who through his fictional persona or Alter-Ego, gives us the viewpoint to contemplate the full cosmos. His cosmos, but for us to share.

Still, we modern readers, in spite of Modernist and PostModernist awareness, are still fooled by DA’s handling of illusion, and easily become pilgrims and start on a literary trip more than ready to absorb everything that DA wants us to see, and think, and believe.

POLITICS

So, for example, we will learn his political views. DA was exiled in 1301 and led a peripatetic life, outside Florence, until his death in 1321. He wrote the Commedia during the exile, from 1309 and finished it in time. By masterfully welding the fact and mythologized fiction of the world of Antiquity, he cloths himself with the full robes of Auctoritas, and presents us the complex development of European politics during the thirteenth century. He summons his views repeatedly either by the succession of visits to the traitors or in fully developed historical pageants.

Of course, Hell is populated by DA’s enemies, with the very pope responsible for his exile, Boniface VIII, holding stardom in Circle 8th. In this Inferno DA is the very Minos. He is the one who with his pen of many tails wraps around his enemies and throws them down the pit to the Circle that DA believes the chosen sinners deserve. Even if this spectacle horrifies his ingenuous Pilgrim.

The ranking of the Inferno Circles reflect also DA’s values. Lust is the least damaging while Treason, in particular political treason and the betrayal of friends, is the most despicable. In comparison even Lucifer, a rendition that remains faithful to the medieval tradition, is not much more than a grotesque, and not particularly hateful, monster.

Politics continue in Purgatory. DA’s audacity is again proved by the way he exploits to its fullest what was still a relatively new concept in Christian dogma (1274). If DA had been Minos in Inferno, he now is the discerning Cato of Purgatory. He is the one holding the Silver and Gold keys, and who claims to know the very intimate thought of those who had the luck to repent the instance just before dying. He awards then the transit ticket to Paradise. Can we be surprised if some of the awardees had some relation to those figures who had welcomed DA during his exile?

DA’s authorial knowledge is supplemented by the granting his protagonist with the role of Messenger of Hope. The Pilgrim, as the only human in Purgatory, can bid for more prayers to the still living relatives when he goes back to Earth. He can effect a change in the duration that any purging sinner is to spend in the transitional stage, the only one of the three realms in which the clock is ticking.

Could one expect DA to finally drop the political discourse in Heaven? No, of course not. There it even acquires greater strength since the discourse is cloaked with a divine mantle. In Paradiso it will be no other than Saint Peter himself who will denounce the path of degeneration that the Papacy had taken in recent years. And if Boniface VIII (died in 1303) had been repeatedly identified as the culprit for the evil in earth, now it is his succeeding popes, --and contemporary to the writing of Commedia--, who are selected by DA’s saintly mouthpiece. Pope Clement V was responsible for the transfer of the papacy to Avignon, and the cupidity of John XXII was for everyone to see.

Indeed, a secluded Apocalyptical 666 attests that politics forms a triptych in Commedia. In agreement with the intricate framework of parallels, symmetries and balances in this work, DA devoted the three chapters 6 in each book to political diatribes.

Apart from his relying on Ancient Auctoritas, DA also accorded the full weight of history to his views, and it is mostly in a couple of major pageants and in the Valley of the Kings that he exposes the political disaster that the withdrawal from the Italian peninsula by the Empire had on the various city states. It was left to the corrupt papacy and to the corrupt smaller kingdoms to spread crime along the full Europe. His solution was clear. The papacy had to govern only religious matters, and he extolled the Emperor Henry VII to hold the political reins of Europe. It is DA’s canonized Beatrice who has a reserved seat for this Emperor in God’s White Flower if he does succeed in exerting his salvific political role.






DOGMA

But the Commedia is not just about politics. This extremely complex work is also soaking in Christian Dogma. Of course politics and dogma were inextricably joined during the Middle Ages, and that was part of DA’s very complaint. And what is to me extraordinary about the immediate reception of Commedia, is that it was treated like Scripture. Even the early editions were illustrated like illuminated manuscripts—which in a way is most befitting if we remember that it is about the progress of a Pilgrim’s as he approaches Light and gains a 20/20 vision elevated tho the Trinitarian power.

In his appeal to religious dogma DA was extraordinarily successful, even if some of his claims were shockingly daring. He modified or added realms to the Christian Cosmos, with the peculiar understanding of the Limbo to accommodate revered figures from Ancient Antiquity, or added the Pre-Purgatory for the unabsolved Rulers. He designed his own ranking of the Sins, both for Hell and Purgatory. But most importantly he proposed his understanding of Free Will and its conflicting relationship to Predetermination and God’s vision. Not by chance did he place the discussion of Free Will at the very center of the work, in Canto 16 of Purgatory.

But the most dangerous proposition, for him, was his vehement defense of the limitations of the Papacy on Earth. He started writing in 1307 just a few years after the Papal Bull of Unam Sanctam the very controversial claim of papal infallibility. Not this book, but Dante’s Monarchia, in which he strongly attacked official tenet, was burned soon after Dante’s death and was included in the list of forbidden books during the 16th century.





NARRATIVE SCHEMES

To us, however, it is not his proclamations on Dogma, and not even his political views (except for historians), which offer the greatest interest. What is most remarkable for literature addicts is how DA, the author, develops all these themes, and succeeds in weighing with the gravest authority his poetic treatise. And this he does through his masterful manipulation of the power of fiction and the sophisticated uses of voices.

For a start, there is the protagonist: DA’s Alter Ego, and the only human in the full work. His humanity, and his being in the middle of the moral mess in which he has placed himself is the perfect mirror for the reader. But we can trust him to embody us because Virgil, the greatest Roman poet and chronologist of the foundation of Rome, will guide us. We can trust him also because Christian Divinity has selected him as the, temporary, guide. It is only when Virgil’s powers have reached his limits, two thirds into the full work, that the pilgrim’s identity is revealed to us. He is Dante himself, or Dante the Pilgrim (DP). With his revealed identity he can say goodbye to the pagan guide who cannot, alas, have a place in Heaven.


Dante, however, will.





The spoiler provided by our general culture has damaged the way we read the work. The astounding pretention of DA in assigning himself the powers in deciding who goes where in his system of divine retributions has been blurred to some naive readers. Some of them try to excuse Dante precisely because they have been entirely convinced by his acting puppet. The highly successful Dante the Pilgrim (DP) as a candid personality with the qualities of kindness, fear, anger and similar emotions, distracts our attention away from the real Dante, the Author.

The Pilgrim is an alibi mechanism for his creator. He shows pity for the people DA condemns. He can go beyond the Terrace of Pride, in which the rather proud DA may be still spending some of his time. And he becomes the anointed messenger from the Heavens to deliver to us what DA is writing. But we would also be mistaken if we did not recognized that not always him, but many other characters voice DA’s opinion. His brilliant dramatization with innumerable personages constitutes the choir of a ventriloquist.

In the sophisticated Narrative technique, the handling of time is also magisterial. Apart from the symbolic unfolding of the action during Holy Week of the year 1300, and the references to eternal cosmic time, it is the numerous voices of this clever ventriloquist who continually foretell what is to happen to the sinners.

Most outstandingly the voices predict the eternal condemnation of DA’s particular enemies. Some of these were not yet dead at the time of the pilgrimage, but had already passed away when DA was writing his poem. Such an example is the premonition that the most hated pope Boniface VIII will be damned. He died three years later. But there is also the shocking case of the soul that is already in penance while his body is still living on earth. This personality died even after Dante.

Finally it is DP himself, once he has entered Heaven, who engages in this foretelling, and of course, it had to be in his warning to the Popes that were about to be in power in the years after the voyage of the Commedia, reminding them to stay out of politics and to forget material wealth.

The suitability of DP as our Alter-egos to reach salvation is certified by his examinations on the Theological Virtues by the the Apostles Peter, James and John. He passes them with flying colors, because DP acknowledges that his knowledge is based on the Holy Text.

And it is also with Text, and DA was very well versed in exploiting its four levels of interpretation (Literal, allegorical, moral and anagogical), that is, with this new poetry that Dante Aliguieri is proposing a plan for his, and our, salvation. Because after such a heavenly Graduation who can deny the Commedia its status as Prophetic and Scriptural? May be we saw it coming, when the still anonymous Pilgrim posited himself, at the very beginning of the poem, as the 6th greatest poet after the likes of Homer, Ovid, Virgil etc. So, may be it is not by chance that his identity as Dante is revealed until Virgil is used and expensed.

Several other poets also populate the triptychal poem: representatives of the two pioneering schools of Provençal and Sicilian schools, as well as by those Florentines who with or just before DA, started formulating the sweet new style (dolce still novo) and exploring the literary possibilities of the still vernacular Tuscan tongue. But if DA has been exploiting his abilities as ventriloquist, it is with his own voice as a poet that he makes a presence in Commedia. A few of his fictional characters quote some of Dante’s earlier verses.

Having reached the Empirium of the poem, we can stop and think about where Dante Alighieri has taken us. Because, even if not eternal salvation, he has delivered us a most extraordinary feat of literature that we cannot but qualify as divine. Furthermore, he has done so in a newly coined language, to which he added some words of his own invention, and, most outstanding of all, he positioned the Author at the very center of that literary White Rose of fiction.

And this flower continued to exude its rich scent until, in a similar process to the displacement of Giotto’s viewer, Roland Barthes, plucked it in the declaration formulated in his 1967 Essay The Death of the Author.


But before that, it had a long life.




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Reading Progress

January 4, 2014 – Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
January 4, 2014 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
January 4, 2014 –
0.0% "I plan to read only the Introduction from the edition with the Ciardi translation. Dante's text I will deal with separately... Still deciding how." (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 – Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 –
0.0% "For the moment reading the Introduction. Still undecided about which text for Dante." (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 –
page 15
2.76% "This edition interprets the she-wolf as fraud and the leopard as concupiscence. Ciardi's take is the opposite." (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 –
page 64
11.76% "Finished the introduction." (Paperback Edition)
January 5, 2014 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
January 9, 2014 – Shelved as: classics (Paperback Edition)
January 9, 2014 – Shelved as: italy (Paperback Edition)
January 9, 2014 – Shelved as: literary (Paperback Edition)
January 9, 2014 – Shelved
January 9, 2014 –
page 1
0.16% "According to Alberto Manguel, out of all the translations into Spanish that he knows, this one by Echevarría is the best one. I am delighted then."
January 9, 2014 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
February 1, 2014 –
page 11
1.74% "Chant 2\n \n Dante assigning to Eneas a weightier role than did Virgil himself. The Empire he founded became also the foundations of Christianity."
February 2, 2014 –
page 12
1.9% "The translation is more beautiful in this verse:\n \n Movióme Amor, y Amor mueve mis labios.\n \n Amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare."
February 3, 2014 –
page 16
2.53% "Canto 3.\n \n Por mí se llega a la ciudad doliente,\n por mí se llega al llanto duradero,\n por mí se llega al perdida gente."
February 4, 2014 –
page 24
3.8% "Dante places himself as the sixth most important poet...\n \n Su gentileza no acabó con esto.\n pues que pasé a engrosar su compañía, \n y así entre tanto genio fui yo el sexto."
February 6, 2014 –
page 38
6.01% "I am fascinated by the mix between Christian doctrine, Classical mythology and contemporary Florentine politics."
February 6, 2014 –
page 39
6.17% "¡Punto en boca, lobuna impía,\n Consúmete tú misma en tu rabieta!\n \n This makes me laugh."
February 8, 2014 –
page 46
7.28% "Mmm... Dante is mad.\n \n Dije: "Si vengo, no me quedo ahora;\n ¿Quién eres tú enfangado de ese modo?"
February 10, 2014 –
page 62
9.81% "Most extraordinary idea, the sinners remember the past and can see into future but cannot see the present."
February 21, 2014 –
page 101
15.98% "One Scrovegni (Reginaldo) tells Dante:\n \n ¿Qué haces tú", me pregunta, en esta fosa?\n Vete y, ya que en la vida aún tienes cuerda, \n sabe que mi vecino Vitaliano\n ha se sentarse aquí, justo a mi izquierda.\n \n I am seeing this work more and more as a political diatribe against Florence.\n \n This Vitaliano (del Dente - an usurer) was still alive when Dante wrote this."
February 24, 2014 –
page 131
20.73% "Mi guía fue a figura tan bizarra,\n Preguntó de dónde era, y él repuso:\n Vine al mundo en el reino de Navarra;\n Allí, al servicio de un señor me puso\n Mi madre, quien me tuvo de un ribaldo\n Que hizo de sí y sus cosas un mal uso."
February 24, 2014 –
page 133
21.04% "The reader addressed again:\n \n Ahora, lector, verás un lance agudo:"
February 25, 2014 –
page 135
21.36% "I find it very amusing that the flatterers are so deep down in Hell..."
February 28, 2014 –
page 135
21.36% "¡Alégrate, Florencia, de ser grande,\n pues tu nombre, batiendo alas y sones,\n por tierra y mar y tártaro se expande!\n \n Cinco hijos tuyos descubrí ladrones,\n lo que, si de vergüenza me ha cubierto,\n no añade mucha gloria a tus blasones.\n \n Dante is really hurting."
March 8, 2014 –
page 195
30.85% "La boca levantó de su guisote\n el reo aquel, limpiándola en el pelo\n del cráneo al que roíale el cogote."
March 11, 2014 –
page 211
33.39% "A bit cooler now. I just got out of Hell."
March 11, 2014 –
page 212
33.54% "Delighted to find my avatar. I feel more at home now.\n \n Renazca aquí la muerta poesía,\n Oh santas Musas, pues soy todo vuestro,\n Y me preste Caliope su armonía,"
March 12, 2014 –
page 218
34.49% "More light coming in. I welcome this."
March 12, 2014 –
page 223
35.28% "Great sense of urgency in Purgatory."
March 13, 2014 –
page 228
36.08% "This is a brilliant translation. The footnotes often expand on some difficulties and discuss what other translations into other languages have done, and what meaning from the original Italian may be lost. Echevarría always finds a very poetic rendition for his version. Sometimes more poetic than the original. Two cases so far. No wonder Alberto Manguel selected this as the best translation into Spanish."
March 13, 2014 –
page 228
36.08% "Lovely beginning of Canto IV of Purgatory... On the perceived passage of time and the split sense in our consciousness."
March 13, 2014 –
page 229
36.23% "In Purgatory time matters."
March 18, 2014 –
page 254
40.19% "It always surpises me when Dante is addressing the reader.\n \n Ve, lector, de captar lo verdadero,\n Que el velo es tan sutil, tan delicado,\n Que es fácil traspasarlo de ligero."
March 18, 2014 –
page 262
41.46% "And here we come again..\n \n Ves, lector, cómo se hace más altiva\n La materia, y no extrañes si aun más arte\n Pongo porque no se haga tan esquiva."
March 19, 2014 –
page 269
42.56% "The reader is addressed more often in Purgatory than in Hell.\n \n Mas no quiero, lector, que se te apague\n el buen ánimo al ver por un indicio\n cual quiere Dios que el débito se pague.\n No pienses en la forma del suplicio,\n sino en después; y puesto en lo más feo, \n piensa que todo acaba en el gran juicio.\n \n Here it does seem like a spiritual guidance.."
March 22, 2014 –
page 269
42.56%
March 22, 2014 –
page 269
42.56%
March 22, 2014 –
page 275
43.51% "I just don't understand how Dante ever makes it beyond the first cornice..\n \n Así un Guido quitó a otro Guido\n la gloria de la lengua, pero acaso\n nació ya el que a los dos eche del nido.\n \n I mean... really!!!"
March 22, 2014 –
page 276
43.67% "I now wonder what Gemma di Manetto Donati, Dante's wife, who had already borne six of his children, who eventually joined him in his exile in Ravenna when he was already in his 50s... What did she think of this Beatrice nonsense?"
March 24, 2014 –
page 288
45.57% "Well, finally a bit of humility... Dante recognizes that he is more vulnerable to Pride - and less to envy. I had been wondering how had he managed to leave the cornice of Pride.\n \n Más terror hace en mí furiosa presa\n cuando pienso el castigo de aquí abajo,\n cuyo preso ya siento que me pesa."
March 25, 2014 –
page 288
45.57% "The individual has a fair amount of freedom...\n \n Vuestros actos el ciel es quien inicia:\n no digo todos; mas, si lo dijera,\n luz que os dio para el bien y la malicia,\n y os dio libre arbitrio, de manera\n que, aunque al primer envión la lid es dura,\n termina por triunfar quien persevera."
March 29, 2014 –
page 305
48.26% "On free will.\n \n Vuestros actos el cielo es quien inicia:\n no digo todos, mas, si lo dijera,\n luz se os dio para el bien y la malicia,\n y se os dio libre arbitrio, de manera\n que, aunque al primer envión la lid es dura,\n termina por triunfar quien persevera."
March 29, 2014 –
page 313
49.53% "Situating Love at the core of human (good and bad) behaviour.\n \n De aquí debes sacar en consecuencia,\n que es el amor de la virtud semilla\n y de cuanto merece penitencia.<(i>"
April 1, 2014 –
page 342
54.11% "Virgil as proto-christian.\n \n Por ti poeta fui, por ti cristiano:\n mas para que veas bien lo que ella pinta,\n a colorearlo alargaré la mano.\n \n So Statius says to Virgil.""
April 3, 2014 –
page 354
56.01% "Now reference to his new style of poetry...\n \n Mas dime si estoy viendo al que estandarte \n alzó de nuestras rimas, comenzando:\n "Mujeres, que de amor sabéis el arte.\n .....\n Vuestra pluma, bien veo, su afán pone\n en seguir lo que Amor dicta y evoca,\n que no es la norma que la nuestra impone."
April 6, 2014 –
page 370
58.54% "And now a little pastiche in Provençal. The only part in which Dante is writing in another language."
April 6, 2014 –
page 371
58.7% "I did not expect the Ebro river to be mentioned. It makes the Purgatory feel very near!"
April 6, 2014 –
page 375
59.34% "I feel sorry to say goodbye to Virgil but the language is becoming Paradise itself."
April 7, 2014 –
page 376
59.49% "This portrait by Agnolo Bronzino seems so modern. From 1530...\n \n "
April 8, 2014 –
page 382
60.44% "I like the idea of the Lethe and the Eunoe. Drinking from the first, the river of Forgetfulness, erases memories, and drinking from the second, reestablishes only the good memories. Apparently the second was Dante's own invention."
April 8, 2014 –
page 385
60.92% "I am surprised to see Virgil evoked now. We said goodbye to him a couple of Cantos ago (XXVII), but now he shows total wonder, a pagan wonder, at seeing the beauties of the Earthly Paradise..."
April 8, 2014 –
page 386
61.08% "The rainbow was highly mysterious during the Midlle Ages. Nice term, the Arch of the Sun.\n \n e vidi le fiammelle andar davante.\n lasciando dietro a sé l'aere dipinto,\n e di tratti pennelli avean sembiante;\n \n sì che lì sopra rimanda distinto\n di sett liste, tutte in quei colori\n onde fa l'arco il Sole e Delia il cinto."
April 10, 2014 –
page 412
65.19% "Legitimizing his "report" with Beatriz giving him directly the instructions to do so:\n \n Anota cuanto te digo y de esta suerte,\n cual lo digo, transmítelo a quien viva \n vida que es un correr hacia la muerte."
April 10, 2014 –
page 414
65.51% "Si os contara, lector, con más espacio.\n cantara en parte aquel dulzor sereno\n de agua que nunca dejaría sacio;\n mas, estando ya todo el papel lleno\n que al cántico segundo corresponda,\n no me deja seguir del arte el freno."
April 10, 2014 –
page 415
65.66% "After accompanying Dante to drink from the wonderful Eunoe river, I am also finished with Paradise and ready to join the stars..\n \n puro e disposto a salire a le stelle."
April 15, 2014 –
page 431
68.2% "Some divine verses..\n \n Como a través de un vidrio terso y claro\n o bien de un agua nítida y tranquila\n de escaso fondo en el que el reflejo es raro,\n mal la imagen, de débil, se perfila, \n tal que una perla blanca en blanca frente\n hiere con más rigor nuestra pupila; "
April 18, 2014 –
page 465
73.58% "E se mio frate questo antivedesse,\n l’avara povertà di Catalogna\n già fuggeria, perché no li offendesse;"
April 20, 2014 –
page 476
75.32% "Addressing the reader again, who is sitting...\n \n Quoting from the original..\n \n Or ti riman, lettor, sovra 'l tuo banco,\n dietro pensando a ciò che si preliba, \n s'esser vuoni lieto assai prima che stanco.\n \n And now his spiritual and pedagogic role..\n \n Messo t'ho innanzi; omai per te ti ciba;\n ché a sé torce tutta la mia cura\n quella materia ond'io son fatto scriba.>i>"
April 30, 2014 –
page 510
80.7% "Dante politicizing Paradise. Canto XVII is a key to Florentine politics and to his exile."
May 3, 2014 –
page 537
84.97% "Furious diatribe against contemporary rulers... \n \n Series of three Triplets (terza rima) with L, V, and E (nine triplets).. LVE - or "plague"\n \n This is Dante in Paradise...!!"
May 4, 2014 –
page 548
86.71% "I recommend wearing sunglasses for Canto XXI, the light is so powerful.\n \n Beautiful images..."
May 12, 2014 –
page 559
88.45% "So, Dante sees God...\n \n vi millares de luces y, sobre ellas\n un Sol que en fuego a todas encendía,\n igual que nuestro sol a sus estrellas;\n y por la viva luz trasparecía \n sobre mi rostro la Sustancia clara\n tanto, tanto, que no la resistía."
May 13, 2014 –
page 571
90.35% "Here Dante states his aim: his poem is his revenge.\n \n Si acaso ocurre que el poema sacro \n en que mano pusieron cielo y tierra,\n tal que hace años por él yo me demacro,\n vence al fin la crueldad que me destierra...\n \n ..con otro pelo y voz, poeta empero,\n volveré y del bautismo en la alma fuente\n tendré corona de laurel, espero;\n \n Paradiso, Canto XXV (1-9)."
May 13, 2014 –
page 582
92.09% "Glad to see that Dante passes his exams...Not just anybody as examiners, Peter, James and John.."
May 14, 2014 –
page 583
92.25% "In an earlier update I advised to wear sunglasses. Dante did not listen and he has now gone almost blind... Luckily he is in the realm of miracles.."
May 14, 2014 –
page 583
92.25% "Disobedience, not just eating from the tree is what dammed Adam (and the rest).\n \n Probé del árbol; mas no fue ese antojo\n sólo por sí razón de tanto exilo,\n sino el ser en cumplir la ley tan flojo."
May 14, 2014 –
page 583
92.25% "The allusion to Nimrod inevitably reminds me of my favourite painting of the Tower of Babel.\n \n "
May 14, 2014 –
page 586
92.72% "And now Dante, sorry, I mean Peter, attacks Dante's contemporary and much hated Popes: Boniface VIII and Clement V."
May 15, 2014 –
page 605
95.73% "Wow... I arrived at the Empyrean.\n \n So much beauty. So much light."
Started Reading
May 16, 2014 –
page 605
95.73% "Vision takes over speech... in the final Canto.\n \n La vista gana al habla, y de soslayo\n dejo ya el habla, que a tal vista cede,\n y la misma memoria entra en desmayo."
May 16, 2014 –
page 630
99.68% ""Reached the Ultimate Light. The End.\n \n ¡Oh eterna Luz que sola tú en ti moras,\n sola te entiendes y, de ti entendida\n y entendiéndote, te amas y enamoras!\n \n "
May 16, 2014 – Shelved as: italy
May 16, 2014 – Shelved as: fiction-italian
May 16, 2014 – Shelved as: fiction-spanish
May 16, 2014 – Shelved as: classics
May 16, 2014 – Finished Reading
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: 2014
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: 2014 (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: classical (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: translation (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: renaissance (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: renaissance (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: translation (Paperback Edition)
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: 2014 (Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-50 of 67 (67 new)


message 1: by Manua (new)

Manua You could try and read it in original language, as a spanish speaker you may find it quite easy to understand :D "Per me si va nella città dolente, per me si va nell'eterno dolore, per me si va tra la perduta gente." see? Not that different ;) A good dictionary and you're ready to go :D


Kalliope Thank you. I am also reading it in Italian.


message 3: by Manua (new)

Manua Oh, right, I can see that on your bookshelf now! :D well then, have fun ;)


message 4: by Emma (new)

Emma Iadanza That's so cool - I wish I could read it in Italian, but half the words confuse me since they don't make sense... I'm going to translate Poliziano's Coniurationis Commentarium (1478) so that's pretty old... the oldest Italian I've read was 1786...


message 5: by Bahíyyih (new)

Bahíyyih I wish I could keep up with more adequate responses (no time) but I love to hear what you are reading; it enlightens the page.


Kalliope Bahíyyih wrote: "I wish I could keep up with more adequate responses (no time) but I love to hear what you are reading; it enlightens the page."

Thank you Bahíyyih.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with a translation of a renomed politician and a man of causes likeVasco Graça Moura
The last one died recently..


Kalliope Luís wrote: "The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with a translation of a renomed politician and a man of causes li..."

I have not read Petrarca yet but I am starting now with Boccaccio.

Dante has been of of the most complex reads I have done.


message 9: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Delightful essay, K – I was very happy to take a little pilgrimage through your assessment of this poem. And what a beautifully-illustrated review!

How was it in Spanish? It reads very nicely in your status updates. I suppose the rhymes didn't need that much alteration compared to English or German translations…


Jareed This review is conspicuously above the cut Kalliope! You are an intellectual force to be reckoned with! :)


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 05, 2014 08:51AM) (new)

Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with a translation of a renomed politician and a man..."

I want to read Bocaccio too..I think that's a hard reading..


Kalliope Luís wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with a translation of a renomed pol..."

Luís, there is a group which started this week to read Boccaccio.. You still have time to join... leisurely reading... And I think it is a lot easier than the Divine Comedy.


Kalliope Warwick wrote: "Delightful essay, K – I was very happy to take a little pilgrimage through your assessment of this poem. And what a beautifully-illustrated review!

How was it in Spanish? It reads very nicely in y..."


Thank you Warrick.

On the illustrations. I am not too fond of Dalí but his illustrations to this poem are spectacular. Hiss and Doré's are, to my taste, the best among the modern illustrators.

On the translation I used. It is brilliant. The translator (I have not been able to find out anything about him) has succeeded in setting the entire poem in "tercetos encadenados" (the equivalent to the "terza rima") with the rhyme and right number of syllables. It is not an easy read, however, since he has also endowed the text with an "old Spanish" flavour.

This is the recommended Spanish version by Alberto Manguel.

It was also cheap...!!!


Kalliope Jareed wrote: "This review is conspicuously above the cut Kalliope! You are an intellectual force to be reckoned with! :)"

Thank you, Jareed. This is one of the most complex books I have ever read, and it certainly demanded attention... not an easy pilgrimage.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with a translation of ..."

But I don't have the books of him..


Kalliope Luís wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "The most ancient italian literature I read was from Francesco Petrarca..And the title was : Os Triunfos de Petrarca,with ..."

You could find the Decameron easily, no? I am reading it in Spanish.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes,but need time & money to buy it..


Kalliope Luís wrote: "Yes,but need time & money to buy it.."

Yes!...they often go together. Can you borrow it?


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

No,I prefer to buy and keep it on my own..


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Kalliope wrote: "Luís wrote: "Yes,but need time & money to buy it.."

Yes!...they often go together. Can you borrow it?"


I Know a excellent edition..


message 21: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Kalliope, your review inspired me to dust off my companion copy through Italy. Unbelievable! How about that opening Canto of Paradiso? Dante has us tumbling through the spheres, running up mountains, traipsing through the seas, all in quest of some original source. We are on Earth but we are not of it. I wonder what Dante would have done with gravity!? Meanwhile Beatrice mothers the innocent child of our ignorance. She tells the poet,

"Among all things, however disparate,
there reigns an order, and this gives the form
that makes the universe resemble God..."

That God makes the poet. But at the beginning of the Canto he seems to be comparing a Poet to Caesar. Is he saying they are equivalent? Or is he saying you must be one or the other, a great politician or a great artist. I wonder how your translation has it? You mention "symbolic unfolding" - that's the beauty of it, isn't it. The theology, the politics, these aren't as great as the ride he takes you on. The great historian of Rome Ronald Syme once posed this Caesar or Poet question. Augustus or Ovid. Augustus ruled his day, said Syme, but the great poet, more admired today, outlasts the Emperor's power. Syme, perhaps one of the greatest romantics of all time...


message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael You sure open a lot of doors in my mind with your synthesis and explication. And your astounding clarity and aptness in presentation. Your metaphor of Dante as a ventriloquist sounds worthy of a thesis in itself (your invention or adapted from readings?). Your assessment of his manipulation of time also was striking.

And I wasn't aware of how his solution for free will and predetermination was his own innovation. When I was a student decades ago struggling to read Inferno in Italian, I loved those structures of thought and tried to tie them to Aristotle in a paper. All a blank now, but remember the lovely concept of God's grace requiring the choice to turn toward it.

You are so right that the poetry is the lasting marvel of the accomplishment. How marvelous it sounds read alive. Who could write such a flowing epic in verse today, or even want to try (I heard Seamus Heaney may have been one)? I still remember how at the literal sound level the voice of the suicide's soul trapped in a tree was so tortured, speaking through bubbling sap from wounds slashed by harpies.

Am simply awed by your sensibilities and insights.


Teresa Brava, Kalliope -- a fellow traveler salutes you.


Kalliope Teresa wrote: "Brava, Kalliope -- a fellow traveler salutes you."

Haha, thank you, Teresa.. that was a great read, wasn't it?


message 25: by Nicole~ (new)

Nicole~ Oh, Kalliope, what a stunning review. I must read Dante now. Thank you for the turn on!


Kalliope Nicole~ wrote: "Oh, Kalliope, what a stunning review. I must read Dante now. Thank you for the turn on!"

It is a magnificent book. Not easy. For me this is a reread, since I feel I just scratched the surface.


Kalliope Stephen wrote: "Kalliope, your review inspired me to dust off my companion copy through Italy. Unbelievable! How about that opening Canto of Paradiso? Dante has us tumbling through the spheres, running up mountain..."

Stephen, what a wonderful companion to take as your Virgil through your Italian pilgrimage.

I fully agree, that the Divine aspect of this work is in its poetic or literary dimension, hence my title...


message 28: by Henry (new)

Henry Avila Beautiful review, and beautiful pictures Kalliope !


Kalliope Henry wrote: "Beautiful review, and beautiful pictures Kalliope !"

I am glad you liked it. The pictures, by Dalí, are phenomenal.


Kalliope Luís wrote: "
Yes!...they often go together. Can you borrow it?"

I Know a excellent edition.."


Here is the Group..

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...


Agnieszka Brilliant stuff , Kall ! And beautifully ilustrated. Excellent !


Kalliope Agnieszka wrote: "Brilliant stuff , Kall ! And beautifully ilustrated. Excellent !"

Thank you, Agnieszka.


message 33: by Lada (last edited Jun 06, 2014 02:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lada yes very well written. Dante is so profound that to write about him on the computer is so difficult. It implies hard work. Exceedingly well and inspiringly written. Dante is divine. This review assumes the sparklingness in itself


message 34: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen P To be put in a special folder where any time I need to be reminded of what literature has to offer Kalliope, both in the writing of your review along with its breath taking illustrations, and the Comedia, I can read it over and again. Truly, I cannot thank you enough.


message 35: by Garima (new)

Garima This is magnificent, Kalliope. A Divine review. Though there were things which were all 'Italian' to me but I really appreciate the effort you put in to explicate Dante's ambition and motive behind writing this extremely important work which I'm hopeful to tackle someday...before entering heaven/hell at least. Once again, wonderful work and yes! beautiful images.


message 36: by Samadrita (new) - added it

Samadrita Wow I learnt so much from this review that I'll mentally bookmark this as side reading when I get to the Commedia eventually.

"the Commedia is not just about politics. This extremely complex work is also soaking in Christian Dogma. Of course politics and dogma were inextricably joined during the Middle Ages, and that was part of DA’s very complaint. And what is to me extraordinary about the immediate reception of Commedia, is that it was treated like Scripture."

This is surely a most intriguing observation regarding the book and Dante's personal views.
Thank you for this enlightening, brilliant essay.


message 37: by Florencia (new)

Florencia What a magnificent piece of writing I had the pleasure of reading today. An original, very informative, brilliantly written and aesthetically pleasing review. Admirable job, Kalliope.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) No mention of Palaccios? I was so sure you would take the route. Still, you wrote a brilliant piece!


message 39: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala This is a very fine piece of analysis, Kalliope, I am in awe.
There is a lot here to make us think but I was particularly struck by the political aspects of the work and the fact that Dante the Poet used the poem to get revenge on his enemies while portraying himself as the benevolent Dante the Pilgrim throughout. What a clever strategy! Send your enemies to the devil while appearing to wish them well at the same time.
The illustrations are so good - I loved the third one especially.


Kalliope Lada wrote: "yes very well written. Dante is so profound that to write about him on the computer is so difficult. It implies hard work. Exceedingly well and inspiringly written. Dante is divine. This review..."

Thank you, Lada. This is an extraordinary piece of literature.


Kalliope Stephen wrote: "To be put in a special folder where any time I need to be reminded of what literature has to offer Kalliope, both in the writing of your review along with its breath taking illustrations, and the C..."

Thank you Steven for the very encouraging comment.


message 42: by Teresa (last edited Jun 06, 2014 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Fionnuala wrote: "The illustrations are so good - I loved the third one especially."

I love the last one. In its simplicity, it spoke to me near the end of our group read and I find that it still does: the road, Dante leaving it, his shadow across it ...


Kalliope Michael wrote: "You sure open a lot of doors in my mind with your synthesis and explication. And your astounding clarity and aptness in presentation. Your metaphor of Dante as a ventriloquist sounds worthy of a ..."

Michael, thank you for the very close reading of the review.

I read two studies along the actual poem. The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Divine Comedy and The Cambridge Companion to Dante. I have reviewed both.

They were excellent companions and they complemented each other.

My emphasis on the review originates in one comment in the Group read, when one other reader seemed to me to be confusing Dante the character with the historical figure, and author. That made me focus then on the Narrative techniques, so the ventriloquist image just resulted from that.

The poem is a very strong statement with several messages.

One would need to be a great deal more erudite and know a lot more about philosophy and theology in the time of Dante, but it seems that his understanding of Free Will was that humans really decide with their choices where they are going. God knows what is going to happen in a similar way to us watching a film for a second time.


Kalliope Garima wrote: "This is magnificent, Kalliope. A Divine review. Though there were things which were all 'Italian' to me but I really appreciate the effort you put in to explicate Dante's ambition and motive behind..."

I understand Garima.. the book is absolutely loaded with very specific references.. I tried not to load my review with them, without becoming too vague.

Well worth the effort to read this.. we now find Dante everywhere...


Kalliope Samadrita wrote: "
"the Commedia is not just about politics. This extremely complex work..."


Thank you, Samadrita. Yes, this is a strong recommendation.. I wish I had read it before... I think it will be a reread...


Kalliope ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "No mention of Palaccios? I was so sure you would take the route. Still, you wrote a brilliant piece!"

Haha.. Reem... to take that line I would have to know a lot more about other possible models or about islamic literature...

But I have the Palacios book which I hope to read and review... I will tackle the islamic influence then...

Now I wanted to explore the full powers of Dante as Author.


Kalliope Fionnuala wrote: "This is a very fine piece of analysis, Kalliope, I am in awe.
There is a lot here to make us think but I was particularly struck by the political aspects of the work and the fact that Dante the Po..."


Thank you Fionnuala. Yes, Dante as Author is most extraordinary... How successful he was, in every sense.. and how cunning...

The Dalí collection is stunningly beautiful... a total of 100 woodcuts (as many as Cantos)....


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Kalliope wrote: "Fionnuala wrote: "This is a very fine piece of analysis, Kalliope, I am in awe.
There is a lot here to make us think but I was particularly struck by the political aspects of the work and the fact..."


The portuguese gouvernment wants to sell the Miro's heritages paintings..Do you know that?


Kalliope Luís wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Fionnuala wrote: "This is a very fine piece of analysis, Kalliope, I am in awe.
There is a lot here to make us think but I was particularly struck by the political aspects of the ..."


Yes, I had heard of that... not just Miró, though...


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Very sadful,in my opinion..


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