After almost 2 years, I finally finished reading The Divine Comedy. It took this long mainly because I couldn’t really read in our old noisy apartment, and after we moved, other things have been on my mind. I started out with a library book, in which you could see how much it had been used. Not satisfied with the condition of the book, and not being able to read at my own pace, as I’d have to deliver it back, I wished for my own copy, which my boyfriend gave me for my birthday.
Let’s start with some facts about this piece of work. It took Dante 12 years to write this poem, which is divided into 3 pieces; Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. He died the year after finishing. It’s called a comedy because in the 14th century, literature was only divided into tragedy (tragic ending) and comedy (happy ending). It was originally named only Comedy.
Inferno is by far the most famous part of this book, and also the most interesting one. I found Purgatorio to be very interesting too though, as this is the part where he describes angels, and Virgil is pure comedy gold in some places. Yes, you CAN actually laugh now and then while reading this, and Virgil’s sharp and dark comments made me do so a few times. I don’t know if it’s fair to say he’s my favorite character, when we’re only ever really exposed to 3, but I loved him, so he is, haha!
I read the first 2 parts quite fast, but Paradiso was a drag, and took me way over a year to read. Why? It’s not so much because the story is bad, because it’s actually really good, and his writing is superb, but… Beatrice! Seriously, I regret knowing about Dante and Beatrice while reading this, and often wished I would have been oblivious about them through this part. It’s not so much that he adores her, and makes her become some sort of saint in Heaven, because that would have been really sweet…
…if it wasn’t for the fact, that in the real world, they were both married to someone else. Yes, Dante had a wife and 3 kids, yet he still drooled over another woman. It was Beatrice’s death that led him to write The Divine Comedy. I think it’s because he wanted to make her a saint, almost an angel, and on the road to that part, he wanted to let his anger out, hence why he acts like a dick in some places during Inferno.
The work itself is a true masterpiece, but knowing that his own wife and kids were kinda not that important to him after Beatrice’s death is just sad. He spent the last 13 years of his life fancying someone else’s dead wife, and I’m not really fond of knowing that. I’m not religious at all, but knowing the 10 commandments, you’re not allowed to desire that which belongs to someone else. And Beatrice belonged to another man. She probably barely even knew that Dante existed, as they only met twice, from what is known about her.
They were both promised to someone else due to arranged marriages at that time, so I will cut him some slack on that part. But even when he truly loved her, I still think it’s wrong of him to be this obvious about it. Times change though, so what I think right now might not have been important 700 years ago.
Thinking about that though, his work could also be a comedy, because he knew exactly what he was doing. That he wasn’t supposed to spit and stomp on the people in Inferno, because that would eventually be the place he’d end up himself, according to the 10 commandments. His work can be interpreted in many different ways, and I guess no one really knows what was going on inside his head when he wrote this, but he surely wasn’t a dumb man, so he probably knew he was doing something wrong.
Anyway, I’m glad that I read the entire thing, and I would surely recommend others to read it as well, even if it’s only the Inferno part. He was a really good poet, and I enjoyed his writing for the most part.
In case you have stumbled upon this while googling information about Dante or The Divine Comedy for your homework, you’re allowed to refer to this article, should you find it useful. And good luck with your work; you’ll need it!