No source, Nancy. Just my own poor memory--I wasn't remcalling my Dante
clearly, and didn't even take the time to go back to what Rick first said
about it. A function of writing relatively late in a day that starts at 6
am. I am hoping that my brain doesn't get too much more befuddled as I
On Tue, 29 Jan 2002, Nancy Gish wrote:
> I think there is a confusion here. Limbo is the first circle of Hell. The
> second circle is the circle of the lustful, in which are Paolo and Francesca.
> Both are in what you call "Inferno proper." The prior circle is the vestibule
> which holds those who never chose. But Dante and Virgil pass over
> Acheron from the vestibule of Hell into the first of nine circles before both
> Limbo and the Circle of the lustful.
> What is the source of the claim here about a separate status of Hell after
> the first and second circles?
> Date sent: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 22:38:37 -0500 (EST)
> Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
> From: Venus Freeman <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Thoughts on "La Figlia che Piange"
> Dear Rick,
> sorry I took a couple of days to get back to this. I can't recall where I
> got this notion that Paolo and Francesca never touched--I am sure that one
> of my professors somewhere along the line passed this bit of information
> on to me. And looking again at my Mandelbaum, I do find that Francesca
> says that "this one, who never shall be parted from me, while all his body
> trembled, kissed my mouth" (not bad even in a translation)(lines 135-6).
> ANd this "never shall be parted from me" does support the reading you have
> offered (supported by many translators). However, I am a little dubious,
> and only partly because I don't readily give up long-held convictions :).
> As Dante describes the torment of the circle at the beginning of the
> Canto, he says
> I reached a place where every light is muted
> which bellows like the sea beneath a tempest
> when it is battered by opposing winds
> The hellish hurricane, which never rests,
> drives on the spirits with its violence:
> wheeling and pounding, it harasses them.
> When they come up against the ruined slope,
> then there are cries and wailing and lament,
> and there they curse the force of the divine.
> Now, while this isn't even the Inferno proper yet (but as you note, the
> 2nd ring of Limbo), it still sounds pretty harsh to me, and clearly
> indicates that those who dwell there do so in misery. ANd Francesca is
> clearly depicted as miserable, so much so that Dante is "moved to tears of
> sorrow and pity" (line 117) When asked to tell her tale, she says "there
> is no greater sorrow / than thinking upon a happy time / in misery . . ."
> (121-123). And she tells her tale "as one who weeps and speaks" (126).
> Now, perhaps it's only the romantic in me, but it seems to me that if one
> could spend eternity with the beloved, bound together, even in torment,
> then even torment would not truly be torment, and surely the misery would
> not be so great as that of which she speaks. Granted, I can only infer,
> but the opposing winds of great force would seem to me not to allow the
> binding of these two together, though she does say that Paolo will never
> be parted from her. Maybe I got my image of the two eternally blown near
> but never allowed to touch from the first translation I read, on which I
> can't lay hands at the moment, and admmittedly was quite a cheap
> translation by no one of any authority on the matter. But I have
> maintained that image of their suffering very vividly in my imagination.
> And I still maintain that they are suffering punishment, which surely
> would not include being bound together. it seems much more appropriate to
> me for them never to touch, like Tantalus in Greek mythology is
> "tantalized" by food and drink almost at his very lips until he reaches to
> consume it. Such a punishment would seem to me to typify the sort of
> suffering dante depicts here, which does seem rather severe, especially
> for this early rung that isn't even in the Inferno proper (and actually
> the sins of some of the others, as well as Paolo and Francesca would seem
> to me, given the Catholic midset, to warrant something more severe than
> Limbo! But perhaps once again Dante is playing with things a bit: is
> Ulysses' crime so much worse--as a false counselor, confined much further
> down, as described in Canto 26--so much worse than adultery and lust?
> Anyway, these are my thoughts. I am almost tempted to ask an old
> prof of mine who specializes in Dante. I would guess he would cite the
> same sources as you, but I can't help but think that I didn't entirely
> invent such a vivid image that has stayed with me for nearly 20 years
> (yes, I am just barely old enough to have been reading dante 20 years ago,
> and NOT been a prodigy :). Does it really make sense to you that such
> misery as Dante describes coincides with the kind of satisfaction you
> attribute to Francesca? genuinely curious, Venus
> On Sun, 27 Jan 2002,
> Richard Seddon wrote:
> > Marcia and Venus
> > Venus: I second Marcia welcome in hearing your voice again. You were
> > missed.
> > I was careless in my remarks about the book. A not unusual occurrence.
> > One of the major themes of the Divine Comedy is that admittance and
> > repentance is what defines whether a soul is assigned to hell or
> > purgatory. If the soul admits to their sin and repents it is assigned to
> > purgatory regardless of the sin. If the soul does not admit and repent
> > then it is assigned to a circle of hell dependent upon the sin.
> > Francesca blames the book for getting her involved in sin. She never
> > has admitted or repented of the sin itself. She does not repent
> > therefore she is in hell.
> > Venus: I find no mention in any of the translations I have that
> > Francesca and Paolo can't touch. I do find that they are together being
> > blown around in the noise and winds along with the souls of Dido and
> > others. I cannot find separation as a condition of their punishment
> > anywhere. What Pinsky translates as "those two who move together" the
> > temple classics gives as "those two that go together", Ciardi gives it
> > as "with those two swept together" and in fact Dorothy Sayers says "And
> > hand in hand on the dark wind drifting go". Furthermore, Ciardi
> > translates line 100-102 as (Francesca is speaking)
> > Love, which permits no loved one not to love
> > took me so strongly with delight in him
> > that we are one in hell, as we were above.
> > Rick Seddon
> > McIntosh, NM, USA
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Marcia Karp" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2002 11:09 AM
> > Subject: Re: Thoughts on "La Figlia che Piange"
> > > Venus Freeman wrote:
> > >
> > > > I also appreciate the
> > > > point (whoever made it first--forgive me for forgetting and thus
> > > > being unable to give credit where it's due (was it Marcia?)) that it
> > > > is the
> > book
> > > > that kills them. But is it really? The problem, the reason for
> > > > their death and condemnation is because, as Mandelbaum translates
> > > > it, "they
> > read
> > > > no more that day." I do see the point that it was the reading
> > > > together that brought them to the moment of their sin. And I have
> > > > always loved
> > the
> > > > perfect understatement of the line: it conveys a great deal by
> > > > simply telling us they put the book down.
> > >
> > > Dear Venus,
> > > How nice to hear your voice again.
> > > I didn't say that the book killed them, I think Rick S did, but
> > > that
> > Francesca
> > > calls the book a pander -- that is, the story of Launcelot's being
> > enthralled to
> > > love excited (to be coarse) Paolo and Francesca to their own illicit
> > > acts.
> > They
> > > resisted until their feelings were enacted in the story. As you and
> > > Rick
> > do, I
> > > think it important that they were reading. Compare this from Auden's
> > > "In
> > memory
> > > of W. B. Yeats":
> > >
> > > For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
> > > In the valley of its saying where executives
> > > Would never want to tamper; it flows south
> > > From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
> > > Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
> > > A way of happening, a mouth.
> > >
> > > I like the happy coincidence of Auden's mouth with the fatal kiss.
> > Anyway, Rick,
> > > here's a paper waiting for you to write in your semester's leave.
> > >
> > > You make a nice point in your observation on the tact and power of
> > «quel
> > > giorno pił non vi leggemmo avante» ("that day we read no more").
> > >
> > > Marcia
> > >
> > >
> > >