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The explanation is less interesting I think than the detection of the
allusion; that's what I found convincing. If I recall this properly, then
the section that is being discussed here takes place even before Dante
enters hell. It's that part which also returns in The Lord of The Rings,
isn't it - where Aragorn proposes to go over the Mountain and Gandalf
proposes to go under the mountains, through Moria. Aragorn prevails and they
try to cross the Mountains first, but they fail and have to go through Moria
anyway. This is just like Dante who is forced to go through the Underworld
because these beasts are blocking his way.

Now the question is whether the position Dante is in can be classified as
one of damnation. It could be, but I don't think it is - otherwise he
wouldn't have gotten "the tour", instead he would have undergone one of the
circles himself, as the lost in the woods implies that he lost his faith,
doesn't it (in reality caused, no doubt amongst others by studying the noble
Romans whom he so admired but were still sent to Hell), combined probably
with a love gone awry? The whole journey is to restore his faith, and it
succeeds, and then there is Beatrice.

But I think it is not very good to call this status 'dead and damnation'. In
the light of TWL it should rather be read as the position of the people who
live in the land of the Fisher King; the land is dead and damned, perhaps
you can phrase it like that, but the point is that it will be restored by
water and the one from the myth who asks the question. It is there that
Dante's position and that of TWL in general perhaps agree most - Dante's
journey is, after all, pretty much of the traditional quest kind, intended
in the end to restore the home front (just like the Hobbits have to put
things back in order in the hills with the skill and wisdom they gathered on
their journey).

Arwin

> I'm missing a logical step.  Supposing for the time being that
> the correlation
> exists as observed between the waiter's and Dante's speech: how
> does the waiter
> get to be "one of the damned and dead" when Dante isn't?
>
> Marcia
>
>
>