“The Close Reader: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime”

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“If sheer cultural influence is the measure of greatness, though, Dante Alighieri should probably rank higher than Shakespeare, since Dante dreamed up something that, sadly, has had even more impact than depth psychology. He invented the infernal. Dante’s ‘Inferno’ gave us our first glimpse of a universe we once again inhabit: a topography of graphic, gruesome suffering. The Dante scholar John Freccero might have been talking about Kosovo or Rwanda or any other post-genocidal landscape when he wrote, ‘The ruined portals and fallen bridges of Hell are emblems of the failure of all bonds among the souls who might once have been members of the human community.'” [. . .]    –Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times, March 9, 2003