Monday, June 23, 2008

Dante's New Popularity

Just stumbled on this article about Dante:

Very cool and perceptive analysis. I definitely think that Dante's imagistic writing is specially suited to our day, in a way that Milton (despite similar subject matter) is not, because Milton is so focused (and talented) with the ideas and especially with the WORDS. This also accounts for why Dante stands up to translation so well - you might not get it exaclty right, or you might debate the merits of a translation of Inferno, but no one forgets the hideous images he paints.

The second point, that Dante is a sadist, and that didn't sit well with the Enlightenment readers, I'd nuance a little: I think Enlightenment readers perceived him as a sadist, which is another way of saying they were unrealistic prudes and milquetoasts. One hope of the postmodern world, I think, is that we have outgrown some of those Enlightenment prejudices, and may find room for more traditional (even violent or primitive) expressions of spirituality. Again, if we can keep enough of the Enlightenment restraint to make such a regression survivable and not murderous, I see it as a good development, a kind of new, healthy, partly carnal spirituality.


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