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Showing posts from April 13, 2014


  Here are my contributions to a seminar on Dante’s Divina Commedia conducted with Dr William Johnston on Thursday the 27 th of March 2014 at the Institute for Spiritual Studies, St Peter’s Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne. Will’s papers and other material from the seminar are available on the parish website. I. HOW POETS TODAY REWORK DANTE Peter Steele, of blessed memory, Melbourne poet and Jesuit, cites the American Ralph Waldo Emerson: the Commedia is “autobiography in colossal cipher”. By which he means, Dante’s life is written large through the code of his poem. Steele embellishes on that idea by adding that the Commedia “might also be called metaphor in colossal suspense.” Which I take to mean, Dante’s poem keeps us hanging on even as it goes on talking about ultimate questions. In literary terms generally today, this is a central issue because while some writers strive to find through their words ways of describing and explaining everything knowable in human terms,