Dante Revisited

In October 2004 an online pal and I were supposed to be studying Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy together. We bought the Allen Mandelbaum translation, the Dante Tarot, and the Dover reproductions of Gustav Doré’s illustrations for the book. He had been trying to read the Longfellow translation, which I find horrible, so I encouraged him to get a more modern text with explanatory notes and we settled on Mandelbaum.

Upon checking my binder, I find we lasted until November 6th when we did Canto XI. I called my write-up “Betrayal Has Its Responsibility” and there it stands in my binder, almost six years later.

I did most of the talking and sharing of notes and random tangents and stuff during the two weeks we were studying. At one point he said to me “My God woman, I’m never going to keep up with you.” Yeah, he had that right, but I was afire with curiosity and the love of learning. I then escaped to my own reveries, and carried on to read the whole of Inferno but lost heart in the first canto of Purgatory while I was in the midst of getting fired at work, and put the book aside.

I have done the odd Dante study on my card blog which I’ve enjoyed under the title Dante Meet-Up, but haven’t read the book again.

However, while having a nap this afternoon I started to drift and think about Dante. I have since bought some more books, critiques and more artwork of the Comedy by artists William Blake and John Flaxman, as well as bigger reproductions of the Botticelli silverpoint drawings that were in the Mandelbaum book. Apparently Salvador Dali did a series of artwork on the Comedy too but it is out of print and not to be found for under $200 or so. Not in my league, I’m a $20 book person these days.

I think I might meander into Purgatory all by my lonesome and see what beauteous language and character hits me canto by canto, then I might drift toward Paradise.

[Click to enlarge]

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