Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dante Alighieri - Inferno

Dante has always captivated me. His most profound text, I believe, is his Inferno. Part of a trilogy (Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso), the work is a literary exploration of hell as it is conceived in the Christian tradition. The poem, written in the terza rima form, is a powerful evocation of the torments that humans are prone to encounter. Its power, I believe, lies in the poem's depiction of suffering, and the many forms it can take. Dante, accompanied by his guide Virgil, enters hell to find a sprawling labyrinth of sin, decrepitude, and ultimately suffering. The poem is not simply, however a bleak exploration of the darker side of humanity. It has a dignity and sense of ultimate redemption which guides the reader through the torments they are reading of, and takes them on a journey to a certain appeasement of their own suffering. In this, Dante has constructed a sort of map you might call it - a map of (dis)ease, that has, at its heart, an ultimate salvation.

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