Paolo Valesio on page 71 of his essay in Mandelbaum's Inferno commentary
says; "Dante wants to draw attention to the contagion of literature not
only on the two readers Paolo and Francesca, but also on the vast community
(both synchronic and diachronic) of readers---what rhetoricians call the
Francesca and Paulo are involved in a flirtation. They begin to read a book
and then they read no more that day. In bursts Francesca's old man and
kills them both. Sounds like a scene a troubadour would have wanted. Of
course Bertran de Born. the greatest troubadour of all, is condemned to the
ninth pouch (?) of the Maleborge, the eighth circle, pretty far down.
Francesca and Paolo are both only in circle 2 of Limbo. They did not even
cross the Styx into the city of Dis and true Hell. In circle 2 they barely
sinned enough to get into the Inferno. They are just beyond the part of
Limbo which is Virgil's own home for eternity. The circle they are in is for
sins of incontinence. Their punishment is exclusion from God's Grace.
I think Marcia cuts through to the quick of the matter by refocusing the
examination on the book. It is the book which Francesca claims got her
killed and into hell. I would say think about the book and its
The two lovers will live eternity together as all lovers poetically want and
that perhaps is the cruelest punishment of all. :>) As myth tries to tell us
over and over; don't ask the Gods for something you can't afford to live
with. I don't understand your comment that they are separated. Pinsky
gives as lines 73-75 of canto 5 where Dante (pilgrim) first sees Francesca
" 'Poet,' I told him, 'I would willingly
Speak with those two who move along together
And seem so light upon the wind.' And he:"
Francesca and Paolo are together for eternity.
After I reread Valesio I might have more.
McIntosh, NM, USA
Rick Parker said:
> Possibly. And possibly there was no hunt for a statue either. But
> note Steve's message about the reasonableness of an allusion. If
> there is an allusion to Dante, one to Eliot's favorites of Francesca
> and Paolo seems to be a good one. It deals with love and seperation
> as, while they are together in hell, they are also forever apart from
> one another.
> Talking about allusions and borrowing, do you agree with Singleton's
> comment about Dante alluding to Virgil in the Francesca passage or do
> you lean toward a borrowing or just a coincidence?