It’s Read An Ebook Week!
I hope you all are enjoying a great ebook or two 🙂
I thought I’d share a book (no, THE book) that I just utterly love and hold in high esteem. I was so enamored with this book that I found a way to sneak it into nearly every single paper I wrote during college. I am not exaggerating.
Though I am a lover (and writer) of fantasy, I’m also a student of the classics, and my most beloved among them is Dante Alighieri’s DIVINE COMEDY— Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), & Paradiso (Paradise).
The original poem is in Italian, but I’ve read the Dorothy Sayers translation. In my humble opinion, it’s the best.
Never heard of Dante Alighieri or The Divine Comedy?
Imagine a young boy, so stricken by the beauty of a girl that he believes he’s seen an angel. Beatrice Portinari is the love of Dante’s life–and she probably doesn’t know it. Dante undergoes a period of suffering and anguish when he learns of her death, and the inner-workings of his soul produces the beautiful three-volume poem of the Divine Comedy (comedy, meaning happy ending).
Not only is the Comedy a tribute to Beatrice, but it’s a masterful and imaginative weaving of mythology, theology, and philosophy, with vivid imagery that has been re-communicated through art and film throughout the years.
The most popular is probably Inferno (Hell), because there are a lot of interesting and frightening things going on there. The great poet Virgil guides Dante through the circles of Hell, past courtly lovers buffeted by eternal winds and wicked clerics burning in tombs. Dante gets to stop and talk with a few denizens, and you’ll find that he places quite a few of his real-life enemies in these circles.
Virgil is uber-cool, using his Word of Power to waltz through the Inferno with Dante at his side even when guardians of the underworld object. He even saves Dante’s arse a few times. When they finally reach the 9th circle, Dante shows us the Devil shedding tears over his lot, and the constant flapping of the fallen angel’s wings creates an ice cold atmosphere, rather than a fiery one. But let’s not stop there! In addition to that, the three most infamous traitors in history are being chewed on by Old Scratch.
Next is Purgatorio (Purgatory) where Dante follows the path of purification, and sadly when they reach the top of Mount Purgatory, Virgil must depart 🙁 He can go no further, as his lot is Limbo. However Beatrice arrives and guides him through the heavens (Paradise), and he gets to chat with several friends he’s placed in Heaven, as well as some saints and notable historical figures.
The highlight is when Dante makes it to the Heavenly Court, sees the glory of the trio of women who moved to save him from destruction–Mary the Mother of God, Saint Lucy the Patroness of the Blind, and Beatrice. Then, offering a prayer to the Blessed Mother and referring to her face as that “which most resembles Christ,” he uses her as a reflective mirror to be able to rise and see the Vision of God.
Thither my own wings could not carry me,
But that a flash my understanding clove,
Whence its desire came to it suddenly.
High phantasy lost power and here broke off;
Yet, as a wheel moves smoothly, free from jars,
My will and my desire were turned by love,
The love that moves the sun and the other stars.
I love that!
Divine Comedy @ Goodreads