Richard, we'll leave the alligators to their swamps...
This is about Dante:
I did Scientific Studies in high school, this actually being a mixture of
humanities and science. Therefore, as part of the national curriculum, I
studied the whole thing rather extensively: two hours a week and periodical
essays, for three years.
Inferno is fun to read, and I remember it well. Also, my father used to
read the most colorful sections at bedtime, when I was a child... Inferno
is to some extent part of the popular culture of every Italian, and many
verses are often cited as <common wisdom> or light mots.
Purgatory is studied during the fourth year, but it is more boring, not
easy to remember. Paradise is studied in the fifth year, but ah,so
difficult ! plenty of theology and astronomy in it, and herds of
commentators arguing wildly about the interpretation of each verse. Essays
are written in minefields. However, some years ago, and it was a very
surprising discovery, I really found Paradise an enjoyable reading. It is
perhaps too difficult to understand for 18 years olds, too far away from
the common problems of teen-agers, while it can provide some useful
insights to adults in search of <the meaning of life>.
In general, I would say that Dante was a master of the language. The Divine
Comedy was written intentionally in the <vulgar> tuscan dialect, with the
aim of promoting it at the same dignity of Latin. The language of the poem
is quite similar to modern Italian. Sometimes, it is difficult to grasp the
real meaning of what he is saying, in part because Dante often bends the
natural structure of the language to meet his commitment of 11 syllables,
but also because we are not so familiar with the science or politics of
Dante's time. He basically invented the modern Italian language with his
poem, the same as Luter did with German when he translated the Bible.
I was in Otranto for summer holiday, a few weeks ago, south east of Italy,
and there was a public lecture of Dante in a oper theatre, given by actor
Carmelo Bene. Dante's political tirades can be used even now, very
effectively, to chastise modern politicians. One of the readings was
Sordello's invective against corruption, from Purgatory, then Ulysses last
journey... such a powerful stuff, especially when it is well read ! and
there is a magic in it, as the public receives these verses, 700 years old
as they are, with a spontaneous connection to the modern life.
Perhaps you can see that I like Dante...
At 18:33 23/09/01, Richard Seddon wrote:
>New subject: How well do you know Dante?
>McIntosh, NM, USA