Back to Dante. Yeah!

The experience of reading Dante’s Inferno made me think that the original Star Wars trilogy of books is a lighter read–for escapism and a lightness of step–compared to the heavy, hellish, grotesque imagery in Dante’s Inferno.

Having read it, I transfer my reading of Dante’s Inferno to my experience of watching the hellish Revenge of the Sith years ago.

Revenge of the Sith is not something to really enjoy like the first Star Wars trilogy. Like Inferno, it’s about a descent into hell, literally and figuratively, depending on the story.

But both make interesting points so are worth a read and a watch.

I have two translations of Dante’s Inferno. The first, which I have read, is eloquent and sometimes difficult, not an easy read. The second translation, which I am reading, is readable. The readable translation is the one I would pick over the eloquent translation because I want to follow what I am reading every step of the way. The introductions of both books are useful in their own ways.

Dante makes me think

Six parts to read of Dante’s Inferno, having read a further five parts today, so am closing in on the target.

The main thing I gathered from today’s reading is how evil distorts humanity, bends it out of shape, manifests in all sorts of contortions from what is good.

The reading today brings into focus the existence of evil and the origin of evil being Satan himself.

Dante has made me think. I have heard the question before. Why did God allow evil? But when one is affected by the distortions of sin, the question is how does one get back into shape? Therefore, spiritual need outweighs theological questions.

I keep on thinking because of Dante. When in need there must be an answer for that need, not ever spiraling out of control questions that may breed dissatisfaction to the needy.

I think again. In the end, God gives us what we need to overcome evil and the theological questions pale in significance. Spirituality should deal with the basic needs of humanity because humanity can be bent out of shape. But God has provided the way out if we take that path.

Heavy in small, but memorable, doses

Been a week away from reading anything. Haven’t read Dante’s Inferno for a week. It concerns me because I should be reading something every day nearly.

A week is too long absent from a book. But, alas, there is a time for everything under the sun. There is a time to rest from reading.

Predicting in a week I’ll be back to the book and from there on to the finish line–when the book is finished.

Reading books is interesting, but it can also take it out of you. Inferno is ‘heavy’ in the sense it’s about lost souls in hell and Dante is giving a commentary on it. His commentary is sometimes caustic though I know it’s sort of humorous because he meets people he disliked in hell. Dante is also very serious about what’s going on in the underworld–it’s horrific.

Half-finished

At the end of this week I read less of Dante’s Inferno and am listening to music. Inferno is still on my radar to finish because I just want to. I don’t like to say that I finished the book half-way through. That’s not even finishing it. If I stopped reading it, I would become a statistic, the half finishes statistic. Following through on reading the book is a must, but at my leisure.

The serious side

Further down the page of Canto 26, in Dante’s Inferno, is a serous side to the epic poem. The key word is ‘grieved’ on Dante seeing the lost souls:

It grieved me then, it grieves me now once more,

to fix my thoughts on what I witnessed there.

 

The first three lines count

As writing mentors say, the first lines count. On my way to reading Canto 26 of Dante’s Inferno, the first three lines stood out as hilarious:

Rejoice, Florentia! You’ve grown so grand

that over land and sea you spread your beating wings,

and through the whole of Hell your name resounds.

On!

Inspiration:

‘Whoever, fameless, wastes his life away,

Leaves of himself no greater mark on earth

Than smoke in air or froth upon the wave.

So, upwards! On! And vanquish labored breath!

In any battle mind power will prevail,

Unless the weight of body loads it down.

There’s yet a longer ladder you must scale.

You can’t just turn and leave all these behind.

You understand? Well, make my words avail.’

[Inferno, Dante Alighieri, Canto 24:49-57, translated by Robin Kirkpatrick, Penguin Classics]

Inferno

Inferno (1)

I’ve been reading the first part of Dante’s Comedy, the Inferno, which was written in the medieval time. I’m getting into the part when the comedy kicks in, about half way through. According to the commentary in this translation, a Penguin classic, the half-way point is when the comedy kicks in.

I have noticed it gets funnier as it goes on, as I paid close attention. The comedy is caustic, biting, perhaps what we would call today as sarky. It’s bold humor and today stands ahead of the pack. But like all good comedy it has a point.

I look forward to how Dante progresses on his journey through hell, and into purgatory and heaven, and how the theme ‘adjusts’ in the next stage of his journey.

At the moment, Inferno is one of my favorite things.