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The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante's 'Divine Comedy'
Wall Street Journal ^ | April 18, 2014 | Rod Dreher

Posted on 04/20/2014 7:03:32 PM PDT by Seizethecarp

On the evening of Good Friday, a man on the run from a death sentence wakes up in a dark forest, lost, terrified and besieged by wild animals. He spends an infernal Easter week hiking through a dismal cave, climbing up a grueling mountain, and taking what you might call the long way home.

It all works out for him, though. The traveler returns from his ordeal a better man, determined to help others learn from his experience. He writes a book about his to-hell-and-back trek, and it's an instant best-seller, making him beloved and famous.

For 700 years, that gripping adventure story—"The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri—has been dazzling readers and even changing the lives of some of them. How do I know? Because Dante's poem about his fantastical Easter voyage pretty much saved my own life over the past year.

Everybody knows that "The Divine Comedy" is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written.

It sounds trite, almost to the point of blasphemy, to call "The Divine Comedy" a self-help book, but that's how Dante himself saw it. In a letter to his patron, Can Grande della Scala, the poet said that the goal of his trilogy—"Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise"—is "to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss."

The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: dante; divinecomedy; selfhelp

1 posted on 04/20/2014 7:03:33 PM PDT by Seizethecarp
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To: Seizethecarp

In Italy, Dante is called “Il Sommo Poeta” - the Supreme Poet.

He wrote in the Tuscan dialect, which in time became the basis of the Italian language. He is best known for his beautiful love poetry.

Dante was banished from Florence and never allowed to return to his native land. He wrote about it in Il Paradiso in the following lines:

e mai continga che ‘l poema sacro
If it ever comes to pass that the sacred poem
al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
to which both heaven and earth have set their hand
sì che m’ha fatto per molti anni macro,
so as to have made me lean for many years
vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
should overcome the cruelty that bars me
del bello ovile ov’io dormi’ agnello,
from the fair sheepfold where I slept as a lamb,
nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra;
an enemy to the wolves that make war on it,
con altra voce omai, con altro vello
with another voice now and other fleece
ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte
I shall return a poet and at the font
del mio battesmo prenderò ‘l cappello ...
of my baptism take the laurel crown ...

As a poet, he has no peers in the Italian language.


2 posted on 04/20/2014 7:16:19 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Seizethecarp

This makes sense. I’ve read “The Divine Comedy” a number of times. Once I made it all the way through in the Italian. It is a great poem, and I think this essay suggests some of the reasons.


3 posted on 04/20/2014 7:17:34 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Seizethecarp

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”

Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century

And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue


4 posted on 04/20/2014 7:27:44 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: Seizethecarp

This illustrates why the Great Books were eliminated from the curricula of our children by the Socialist John Dewey (for the collective “group think” and conditioning of dependency and ignorance). If any Classics are taught in Common Core (like Jane Austin) they use her book to demean traditional marriage.

All Classics are clear on Good and Evil and what creates happy lives and what destroys lives (like in Jane Austin).

Socrates stated that Wisdom is being able to discern “Good and Evil”. Kids graduating even from college are devoid of Wisdom.

Our public schools not only sexualize children, destroying that awe and mystery and wonder and respect for other humans, which destroys the Search for Knowledge, the publick schools also deliberately blur truth and flip it....so children have a really warped ethical system (like pagan/occult cultures)....where Up is Down and Virtue is Vice. They embed irrational concepts like “guns are evil”.

Only Classical Education gives children the tools to use Reason and be Wise.


5 posted on 04/20/2014 7:44:31 PM PDT by savagesusie (Right Reason According to Nature = Just Law)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Our dreams come from God! How about love?:

Dio mi ha mostrato nei miei sogni
Non ho capito cosa voleva dire per rivelare
Non poteva essere vero a tutti
Dal momento che non ho mai afferrato un tale amore
A me è caduto come un dolce, potente colpo
Quando la vidi, un giorno, ho intravisto il cielo
No - era semplicemente troppo per me da sopportare
Testimoniare il tipo di amore Egli ci porta
Giù dalle altezze del cielo alle profondità della terra
Non ho mai saputo cosa sia il vero amore potrebbe essere
Se conquista il mio cuore nei miei sogni
Che rivela il tuo bel viso a me
Io veramente so che questo sogno è destinato a essere.

Or as translated:

God showed you to me in my dreams
I didn’t realize what He meant to reveal
It could not possibly be true at all
Since I never apprehended such a love
On me it fell like a sweet, powerful blow
When I saw her one day, I glimpsed heaven
No - it was simply too much for me to bear
Witnessing the kind of love He brings to us
Down from heaven’s heights to earth’s depths
I never knew what true love could be
If it conquers my heart in my dreams
That reveals your beautiful face to me
I truly know that this dream is meant to be.


6 posted on 04/20/2014 7:55:06 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: ClearCase_guy

“Tangled up in blue” by Bob Dylan

http://www.metrolyrics.com/tangled-up-in-blue-lyrics-bob-dylan.html


7 posted on 04/20/2014 8:06:22 PM PDT by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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To: Seizethecarp

“...and regain a sense of direction...”

“Che la diritta via era smarrita.”


8 posted on 04/20/2014 9:09:52 PM PDT by Finalmente
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To: Finalmente

Definitely better in Italian!


9 posted on 04/20/2014 10:01:21 PM PDT by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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