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Showing posts from October 18, 2015

Charles Brasch and Dante

Unexpectedly, as he draws to the end of the steadfast and beautiful autobiography of the first half of his life (‘Indirections: a Memoir 1909-1947’, pages 412-413), the New Zealander Charles Brasch introduces from out of his reading time, Dante Alighieri. The timeframe is the immediate end of the second war, as he calls it, and Brasch is returning from wartime life in Britain to his homeland. Reading just then the early cantos of the ‘Inferno’, suddenly for the first time I felt I understood what inspired the ‘Commedia’ and what it is all about. It is a vision of the terrible reality of good and evil, and of the inescapable consequences of human action, which is the exercise of free will. The vision begins significantly in that dark wood between youth and middle age, where Dante implies that he had lost all sense of purpose and of right and wrong and that the life he was living was an unworthy one – unworthy of him. All at once he saw what he was in danger of becoming, and by c