Dorothy Sayers places a very fruitful (for me) note on Canto XXXII of Purgatory. Dante crosses the Lethe and meets Beatrice who is standing in the chariot as the Christ figure in this pageant. They have an ecstatic exchange. Statius, however, is excluded from this even though he must be standing around somewhere. Does this mean that Christ (as Beatrice) has nothing to say to Statius? Sayers gives her understanding of this:" My own conjecture (for it can be no more than that) is that what Statius beholds upon the Car is not Beatrice, but whatever is, for him, the personal God-bearing image; and that his experience is here as private from Dante as Dante's is from him." (p. 327).
If you read The Cocktail Party with this in mind, you might see that what Celia realizes with the help of Harcourt-Reilly and Julia is that her experience of ecstasy with Edward was an experience of God. He had been that "personal God-bearing image" for her. Her mistake would have been to try to find it again with him, rather than going directly to God.
J. P. Earls, OSB
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2002 11:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: In a flash of lightning
In a message dated 5/8/02 10:10:42 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> My initial impression on your comparing Verdenal and Christ was that
> you had to be out of your mind.
I AM out of my mind, but not for this reason.
The rest of the list probably feels as you do, but hey, I figured it was
better to share my thoughts and face the list's ultimate punishment (that is,
total silence) rather than not write about the idea. Even if it's totally
wrong (and I wouldn't have written the post if I thought it was wrong), I
hoped it would generate discussions that might get at some interesting ideas.
> I'm rethinking this though now. In
> Part V of TWL I've thought that the opening garden of Gethesmane scene
> was TSE's own objective correlative for his feelings for Verdenal,
> love/friendship and a guilt over abandonment. Then I feel that there
> is a good chance that the hooded third is a Verdendal figure. Thus,
> in a way, I'm comparing Verdenal and Christ also.
I recently finished reading the Commedia (Singleton's translation, which is
what I posted) and read Singleton's commentary along with it. Singleton
repeatedly points out Commedia parallels between Beatrice and Christ.
Probably the biggest parallel is the idea that, through love of Beatrice (and
Christ), Dante was lead to an understanding of love of God. I reflected on
this idea, and on some of the ideas of human love that TSE expressed
(remember that essay in which he says love of man and woman, as well as man
and man, is only made reasonable insofar as it leads one to Divine love?). It
occurred to me that TSE was viewing his love of Verdenal is an analogous way
that Dante viewed Beatrice, that is, as leading him to a "Vita Nuova". I
think this view made its way into TWL. The opening 'garden of Gethesmane'
scene, the hooded figure, the "He who has living is now dead" line, as well
as the "flash of lightning", all reinforced the "Vita Nuova" analogy to me.
-- Steve --