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ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Complete Control, Jacques Le Goff, Pietro Della Vigna

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William Robins

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January, 14th 2013
Dante’s Inferno – Lecture 1
References: There are 2 Dante’s
Dante the Pilgrim
o Universal everyman
o Historical individual
o First verses of canto 1
o Universal and personal experience
o Personal experiences with reporcunctions of moral expectations
Dante the poet
o The narrator
o The author of the poem
o Dante is also seen as being outside the poem ^
o Presents the journey as true ^
The poem is about how the pilgrim becomes the poet
The poetics of conversion:
John freccero: the pilgrim’s view is lke our own view of history and of ourselves; confused, still in the making.
The poet’s view is different, for it is global and comprehensive, the total view of a man who looks at the wprld,
his neighbourhood, and indeed humself with all the detachment of a cultural anthropologist. The process of the
poem, which is to say the progress of the pilgrim, is transformation of the problematic and humanistic into the
certain and transcendent, from novelistic involvement to epic detachment
Transformation in the aeneid happens to a character; but in D’SI, it happens to the author; it is a poem about
trying to understanding oneself and writing ones own story
Inferno canto 1
o Midway in our journey… dark wood (first lines)
o Psychological landscape of being lost
o Between both dantes, there are differences and similarities
o Fear is renewed

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o Poet is going to overcome fear just like his alter ego will through the journey
o Shows his memory and his ability to recover experiences
o Two dantes are brought together by the mechanism of memory
Canto 4
o Seeing ancient philosophers
o Poem has a logic that drives the poet on, like virgil’s logic drives pilgrim on
o Therefore there seems to be 2 stories
An aspect of POC
o Good is so attractive
o Fundamental problem of human will; a situation that dante goes through
o Dantes walks to the hill / sun; on the way, he meets the three beasts which represent sins of nature
o She-wolf bugs him the most which represents appetite; inconstience
o Limitations of intellectual ascent and the recognition of the will; archerious struggle
o Dante shows daring when he says who his guide is; because he is a pagan
V is the poet of the transformation of characters; see above; that’s why he is mentioned
Intertextual relationship; poetic necessity dominating
Gains perspective and becomes a poet
Dante and virgil:
D questions v like aeneas questions if venus is mortal or god
Virgilean allusions in canto 2
Canto 4
o In limbo
o Meets poetics of antiquity
o Dante’s suggests there are 6 greatest poets; includes himself; is bold
o Italian is vernacular speech; texts at his time were written in latin; was radical; was the first in the
middle ages to call himself a poet
o Apprenticeship
Third point of reference:
Divine justice; god gives just rewards and punishments
Mecry and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed (psalm 85:10)
Canto 3; verses of gateway to hell
Justice moved my maker …. Abandon all hope …
Justice is paired with mercy
Beatrice’s call to virgil to help dante is an act of mercy
Pilgrim receives mercy but thinks he doesn’t deserve it; just as virgil experiences hell not because of merits,
but because of how he was born (pagan)
An understanding is that those in limbo are not punished or rewarded; but they are in hell; virgil explains that
they live in eternal longing; they know that they cant have heaven
Deeper understanding of divine justice
Three beasts:
Are allegories
Virgil might be an allegory; maybe Beatrice
Virgil is described as a specific individual who happens to be a shade

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Virgil is a historical being
Dante distinguishes between two types of allegories: below
Allegory of the poets
Fictive surface level meaning
Abstract truth content
Allegory of the theologians
Historical sense
Typological sense
Moral sense
Anagogical sense (end of time)
Psalm 113.1-2
Dante ―letter to can grande‖
o If we look at it from the letter …. They are differen from the literal or the historical‖
Like bible relationship between old and new testament
What d is doing seems to be using divine allegory like god does
o Jonah and Christ stay underground for 3 days
Allegory of comedy
Dnate ―letter …‖
The subject of the whole work ….. subject to the justice of being rewarded or punished‖
From the opening lines, Dante makes clear the allegorical intention of his poem: ―Midway on our life’s
journey, I found myself / In dark woods, the right road lost‖ (I.1–2). By writingour life’s journey‖ (emphasis
added) and with his generic phrase ―the right road,‖ Dante links his own personal experience to that of all
humanity. The dark woods symbolize sinful life on Earth, and the ―right road‖ refers to the virtuous life that
leads to God.
his characters can see beyond their time on Earth because in death they exist outside of time
January 16th, 2013
Lecture #2
People in Florence would walk up to Dante, smell him, touch him, because they believed he went to Hell and
came back
The vivid descriptions are what makes the poem a memorable force
Medieval culture relies on memory
Vivid descritptions:
Dante and Virgil encounter Minos judging the dead (cantos 5)
o Exposition after description
o Dante is a master of similes; probably learned from virgil
Descriptions of individuals
o Like dogbeast cerebus
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