Here in Italy Dante Alighieri is very much The Poet – the fellow who took it upon himself to describe in poetry a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.
His Divina Commedia – the Divine Comedy – is the object of passionate study by hordes of scholars, and a staple of the school curriculum. As far as I know, no Italian kid is allowed to leave school without meeting Dante – more or less exhaustively (that depends on the kind of school), and more or less satisfyingly (and that mostly depends on the teacher).
Father of the Italian language or no, Dante is no easy read. His Fourteenth Century Italian, his rhetorically complex style, and the many references to his day make the Commedia less than immediate to our modern ears – and while some teachers really do their best to introduce their pupils to the power and beauty of it, some… don’t. A great pity… Continue reading →