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Showing posts from October 27, 2013

Purgatorio after Inferno according to Dante

Readers of The Divine Comedy who get stuck in Inferno and see this as the place where all the action happens, have a long way to go. It is a common response for a novice to conclude that Dante equals Inferno. But Inferno is a dead-end ultimately without an understanding of what happens next. Indeed, Purgatorio is the poem that helps us better appreciate what is going on in Inferno. Here are some contrasts in Dante’s presentation of the two places that help our reading of both Inferno and Purgatorio. 1.      The word ‘peregrin’ (pilgrim) first appears in the Divine Comedy in Canto 2 of Purgatorio.   For the first time in the poem we are on pilgrimage, we are on the way to learning about ourselves. Inferno was not a pilgrimage. How do we describe Inferno? An endurance test, a wakeup call, a warning, a place of no exit for its inhabitants. But an early sign that the infernal state has been escaped is the use of ‘peregrin’. It is behind us. While on pilgrimage we are not in a burni