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Sorry to hear that you didn't have a great time with Dante. More than just about anyone else I can think of, he's a "learned poet", requiring a lot of background knowledge of the reader, and I find that for me this is the principal impediment to really "getting into" his poem -- the need to always be consulting the notes. This is especially a problem in the Purgatorio, where the background knowledge is mostly 13th century Italian politics!

I'm not sure if this was exactly your problem with it, but, if it was, it will be less of a problem the second time!

No, that wasn't my problem. There are lots of passages in Shakespeare that need or at least benefit from notes. That's a surmountable obstacle. Not being able to read it in Italian is the big problem, and it alas is not surmountable.

We'll have to get you some tutoring lessons from Norma, Mac.

"If you recall, the great triumph of the Party in the novel was to make people believe that 2+2=5 if the Party says that it does."

Yes, and it's very scary.

"My first thought about that was "What, the Smart People haven't already read it?""


Well I really enjoyed your comments about Dante, because I think I learned something helpful about poetry - about the sound aspect.

Where's my comment, darn it!


With the snows of yesteryear, apparently. Not in the spam catcher.

Glad you like it, Louise.

Good idea, Stu. :-)

Regarding Dante, I fully agree with your statement about attempts at translating poetry (I don't read Italian either). A few years ago I attended a class on Dante's Inferno at St. Francis Xavier Church in Birmingham and was inspired to get through the entire work. I found additional inspiration by listening to the work read and looking at William Blake's artwork based on Dante. I hope you won't take this as spamming, but if you're interested, here is a blog piece I did after my Dante studies that I titled, "My Season with Dante": http://notdarkyet-commentary.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-season-with-dante.html

No, not spamming at all! I look forward to reading it (don't have time just at the moment).

Okay, what I said was that I liked Purgatory the best. The class that I was taking at the time really helped. I just did not care much for Paradise. I don't think anybody can do a good job of describing it. St. Paul told that. ;-)

If you have time to play around with Google images, you can find illustrations by a lot of artists.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

Life's a shadow that walks, a bad actor
That stalks the stage and fusses for an hour

This is why I dislike these modern paraphrases of the Bible so much. There's a really popular one that uses a lot of palsy-walsy talk that was popular at the seminary. I can't stand it. And then, either Bill unknowingly picked up a modern translation of My Imitation of Christ that was like that. Ick.


I think I liked Purgatory and Paradise about equally. But I feel like I was more distracted while reading Purgatory, less into it, so that's part of it.

My hasty look in Google Images didn't turn up much besides Dore and Blake.

I really prefer the King James Bible. The first RSV is better than most current ones. Though I've been meaning to try using Knox's for regular reading. I bought it years ago but it has mostly set on the shelf. I think you're talking about something beyond just translation, though. Ick is right.

Charles, your commentary is excellent. Very interesting and useful. Thank you. I have a lot more to say about it which maybe I can get time for later today.

The Message is the name of the Bible paraphrase.


Like you said, ick.

Yet there might be something to be said for it if it didn't go as far as things like "day one."

Because it's so hard to understand, "the first day."


Right. Like "dwelt among us". Nobody in the 21st c can make sense of that. Change it to "moved into the neighborhood."

The translation of the Greek word is something pretty close to pitched His tent among us. ;-)


I'm not going to have time today and probably not tomorrow to say anything much about Charles's Dante commentary. I may just wait and put it in the next SNJ.

Sorry, cross-posted with you. Does it literally say "tent" I wonder?

I seem to remember it does, but I would have to look it up.


Here's a discussion of "pitched his tent":

The Greek word eskenosen, usually translated as lived or dwelt, is translated literally as tabernacled. It means literally that God pitched his tent among his people. (The same word is used with the same deep meaning in Rev 21:3, and the idea is prefigured in Sirach 24:3-10.) This unique expression is used in the Old Testament of the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle in the desert, where Moses and Aaron went to speak with God, the place where God lived among them and beside them. And the words which follow, "we saw his glory", are also related to the Tent of Meeting: when Moses had finished its construction, "thecloud overshadowed the Tent of Meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Exod 40:34) This in turn alludes to the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit in the conception of Christ (Luke 1:35). So St. John is describing the Incarnation as also the coming of the 'New Temple'. In his own Person Jesus fulfils what was shown symbolically by the Old Testament tabernacle and temple: he is truly the place where God dwells among his people.

I am so thankful to you, Marianne, because I was just getting ready to look that up and I really didn't want to.


Thank you for bringing it up in the first place! A real education for me.

Maclin, I wonder if it would be nice to listen a few bits from an audio recording of The Divine Comedy in Italian. The sound itself might be enjoyable. I'm not thinking of anything more than a few minutes.

Funny you should mention that. Earlier today I remembered that I have a very old LP of someone reading Dante in Italian. I can't remember where and when I got it, but I'm sure it was not later than the early '70s, and I don't think I've ever played it. I dug it out and it's the first 8 cantos of Inferno. So I'll be giving it a listen sometime soon.

Yes, thanks, Marianne, that's quite interesting.

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