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.

Interesting exercise

I couldn’t have imagined how many words in Dante’s Inferno could be misunderstood, those mildly or moderately complex and very complicated words that requires a dictionary. I came up with about 300 difficult words which I randomly scribbled on a card to look up later. It became a very interesting exercise.

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.

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.

Current submissions

To be quite frank, my fiction and poetry submissions have been getting set backs, though sometimes I get a nice, thoughtful, considerate commendation. But the piece wasn’t picked up. Considering the piece wouldn’t be worth much, I thought better of it. One of the ironies of submitting–I wasn’t going to become rich out of this piece.

However, we don’t like being rejected. Rejection is the way it goes they tell us writers–via twitter words of wisdom and the writer’s blogs.

It’s a wonder we get entangled in such a occupation that offers the world, but can then offer very little. You just don’t know when a shot to the heart will come. Nevertheless, I always think submitting pieces is worth a shot.

So with my current two submissions I have the feeling they will come to nothing as well. Or maybe a nice comment.

As they say, wish me luck. But I don’t believe in luck. Authors must face publishing reality.

Most times the publisher rejects your work, they must be right, to the degree that they think the work isn’t the right fit, more or less, or they have better work than your’s.

I’ve accepted this reality and don’t really mind what happens. Even if you think you’ve done your’re research on the publisher, there’s the possibility it still won’t fit. Don’t worry about it. Life is bigger than that. It doesn’t really matter.