Canto IX as a Microcosm of Dante’s Inferno

Canto IX of Dante’s Inferno is remarkably representative of the work as a whole. It includes a number of prominent themes, among them the role Virgil plays as the manifestation of human reason and the argument that faith can achieve what reason cannot, as well as contrapasso¸ or the matching of sins on Earth to … Read moreCanto IX as a Microcosm of Dante’s Inferno

The Conversations of Francesca, Pier, and Ulysses

The journey of introspection can lead to unbound places and uninhibited realizations. In the course of his travels throughout the Inferno, Dante Alighieri encounters the damned souls of the underworld and experiences their prodigious punishments. Undoubtedly one of the most exalted and enigmatic poems to have ever been written, an unassuming reader can be virtually … Read moreThe Conversations of Francesca, Pier, and Ulysses

The Role of Guidance in The Aeneid, Confessions, and The Divine Comedy

Galileo Galilei once stated that “all truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” However, in order to understand and discover such truths, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Saint Augustine’s Confessions, and Dante’s Divine Comedy, all three protagonists are … Read moreThe Role of Guidance in The Aeneid, Confessions, and The Divine Comedy

Dante: Love and Goodness as Guidance to Self-improvement

“Love is the seed in you of every virtue and of all acts deserving punishment.” ——Purg. XVII, 104-5 Dante calls his great work a comedy, not for its humor but because it meets the traditional definition of a comedy: a story with a rising plot from sad to happy. In this sense, Dante’s beginning in … Read moreDante: Love and Goodness as Guidance to Self-improvement

La Petit Mort: Dante and Mortality After The Lovers

The difference between death and dying can often seem minute. The dying are merely those on the way to death. Yet the intrinsic difference between the process of dying and the moment of death is one of great literary obsession, in particular in Dante’s The Inferno. Robert Pinsky’s otherwise transcendent translation makes a provocative error … Read moreLa Petit Mort: Dante and Mortality After The Lovers

Stories of Sin: Storytelling as Confession in Dante

To tell a story is to narrate events, or to give an account. Within literature, storytelling becomes a frame within a frame, a story within a story. A character from the outer frame of the book creates a smaller frame in the form of his or her story. As Dante descends through Hell in his … Read moreStories of Sin: Storytelling as Confession in Dante

Innovation, Rhyme, and Feel in Robert Pinsky’s Poetry

The first U.S. Poet Laureate for three consecutive years (from 1997-2000), Pinsky has succeeded in much more than poetry. In 1984, for example, he was the author of an interactive fiction game called Mindwheel; today, he is the poetry editor for the irreverent online Slate magazine. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that his poetry embraces … Read moreInnovation, Rhyme, and Feel in Robert Pinsky’s Poetry

Distraction and the Afterlife in Dante’s Divine Comedy

“Blessed are those in whom grace shines so copiously that love of food does not arouse excessive appetite, but lets them hunger after righteousness” (2.23.150-154). On the sixth terrace of Purgatory, a tree speaks these words, communicating a broader theme of The Divine Comedy, that our attention should be consumed by a desire for God … Read moreDistraction and the Afterlife in Dante’s Divine Comedy

Dante’s Influences on T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and his poetry was greatly influenced by Dante Alighieri. Eliot’s introduction to Dante was in his college years at Harvard, where he studied philosophy. Eliot read Dante’s works extensively in college and may have meant to “apprentice” himself to learn everything he … Read moreDante’s Influences on T.S. Eliot

Odysseus Across Time In Dante and Tennyson

“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the storyof that man skilled in all ways of contending,the wanderer, harried for years on end,after he plundered the strongholdon the proud height of Troy.He saw the townlandsand learned the minds of many distant men,and weathered many bitter nights and daysin his deep heart at sea, while … Read moreOdysseus Across Time In Dante and Tennyson