Dante, Paradiso

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Here is what you've heard about the Divine Comedy: the Inferno, with its poignantly vivid tortures and its cacophony of wicked voices, is the most entertaining canticle, beloved of various and sundry; the Purgatorio, with its wistful focus on the lives and ambitions of poets and its … Continue reading Dante, Paradiso

Dante, Purgatorio

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Allen Mandelbaum begins his introduction to his wonderful translation thusly:   For the Virgil of Dante's Purgatorio, "love is the seed in you of every virtue/and of all acts deserving punishment" (XVII, 104-105). To find one same source for all good and all evil is … Continue reading Dante, Purgatorio

Dante, Inferno

Inferno by Dante Alighieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars You know the story: a man in the middle of life is lost in a shadowy forest of ignorance and error, his path to wisdom blocked by impassable beasts. Then he is saved by the shade of the great poet, Virgil, sent to rescue the … Continue reading Dante, Inferno

Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

I find a lot to criticize and very little, almost nothing, to like in the Tom McCarthy essay that is making the rounds, but I will confine myself to one point: It is not just that people with degrees in English generally go to work for corporations (which of course they do); the point is that the … Continue reading Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

Dante, Purgatorio

The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars I'm specifically talking about the Dorothy L. Sayers translation here. In her preface, Sayers notes that this is the most loved of the Divine Comedy's canticles. It is the most human, many commentators say, since it alone takes place within the … Continue reading Dante, Purgatorio

James Wood, David Mitchell, and the Metaphysics and Morality of the Novel

While I enjoyed number9dream, Cloud Atlas, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I haven't read David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, and I don't know that I will.  The high fantasy trope of immemorially-warring clans who represent good and evil may secretly structure most political commentary today, but the peculiar virtue of literature is … Continue reading James Wood, David Mitchell, and the Metaphysics and Morality of the Novel

Links: Me, Elsewhere

1. While I don't even really know who Ira Glass is, I thought the response to his anti-Shakespeare tweet was missing a broader perspective, so I wrote an essay for The Millions attempting to provide one, giving some good reasons why people across the ages, from Tolstoy to Wittgenstein to Joyce to Woolf, have criticized … Continue reading Links: Me, Elsewhere