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December 3, 2013

"Stopped mid-motion in the middle / Of what we call our life, I looked up and saw no sky— / Only a dense cage of leaf, tree, and twig. I was lost."


To find oneself at a dead end in the midst of life
— to discover suddenly that all ways of moving are closed off—is equivalent to a kind of death (“death is hardly more bitter,” Dante declares). Anyone who has experienced even mild forms of depression knows what the state of paralysis in Inferno 1 is all about. Depression brings things to an oppressive standstill; its objective correlative is a dark room and a bed, which can easily take on the feel of an alien forest. - - Dante: The Most Vivid Version by Robert Pogue Harrison

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 3, 2013 10:29 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

I've always preferred Henry Francis Cary's translation, reminiscent of the style of Milton: "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray ..."

Posted by: Darkwater at December 3, 2013 2:13 PM

see the last Sideline: "Art has not shocked, provoked or otherwise challenged for years now."

Our artists have run from life like children from the scary part in a monster movie and are now just standing in the corner, picking their noses and flicking boogers at us. Eight hundred years on and Dante still provokes dread. The Passion of Christ is still awesome and the Old Testament terrifying after all these years, but you have to be at least a little alive inside to feel it. Too much modern art is by zombies for zombies:

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo."

"Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;"

To which the only meaningful answer is:
"Let the dead bury their dead
and follow me."

Posted by: JB at December 3, 2013 5:38 PM

Not an updated translation, but a travesty. Don't get to use that word much, thanks.

Posted by: ahem at December 4, 2013 7:03 AM

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