" Midway in the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard it is to tell what
that wood was, wild, rugged, harsh; the very thought of it renews
the fear! It is so bitter that death is hardly more so. But,
to treat of the good that I found in it, I will tell of the other things I saw
there. I cannot rightly say how I entered it, I was so full of sleep
at the moment I left the true way; "
Dante Inferno Canto One Singleton translation
I have been reading about Dante's Divine Comedy and it's effect on future
writers. especially other poets for many years. Since I have retired and am
spending time at the cabin with fewer distractions I have began to study
Dante's work more seriously as one of the hobbies that I will undertake to
try and keep my mind active. I have been listening to the DVD series on
Dante from Great Courses but I also really recommend the Open Yale Courses
series they cover a number of topics in science and the arts, and are free on the
web. Since webcasts are problematic given our internet costs at the cabin I have
been reading the book Reading Dante by Giuseppe Mazzotta a transcript of his
lectures, many of which I have watched and loved. One passage struck me as
especially interesting as he was discussing Dante's use of hope as a "verb of the
future" in Dante's the Vita Nuova a work which preceded the Comedy. Since
I have found a bit of introspection comes with the territory as one ages I liked
the way Mazzotta discussed the past especially past errors.
" To say "I hope" is a theological virtue, and hope here too always implies the future.
It says the past is not really over and done with because once you enter into the category
will be seen in terms of a new life of hope, you really believe you can change the meaning
of the past. The fact that things happen whereby all your past errors can and will be seen
in terms of a new life means that there is the possibility of change instead of destruction."
from Reading Dante, by Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University Press 2014 page 10.