“Dante’s Self-Help Book”

william-blake-inferno-26-wall-street-journal.jpg“There are monuments to Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) everywhere in Italy, where three years of study in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ are required for young people to learn how to lead the best possible life. One cannot imagine Italy’s culture without Dante’s 14th-century work — any more than one could imagine Britain’s without Shakespeare or America’s without the Declaration of Independence.
Unlike most other world classics, The Divine Comedy is a self-help book. People read Shakespeare with no expectation that they will become Shakespeare. But many read Dante expecting to mimic his results and transform themselves from seekers, lost in their own questions, into poets, certain and transcendent.” [. . .]    –Harriet Rubin, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2007

Contributed by Jake Bourdeau