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A Reading of Dante’s Inferno

This work is a guide to the reading of Dante’s great poem, intended for the use of students and laymen, particularly those who are approaching the Inferno for the first time. While carefully pointing out the uniqueness, tone, and color of each of Dante’s thirty-four cantos, Fowlie never loses sight of the continuity of the poet’s discourse. Each canto is related thematically to others, and the rich web of symbols is displayed and disentangled as the poem’s unity, patterns, and structures are revealed.
What particularly distinguishes Wallace Fowlie’s reading of the Inferno is his emphasis on both the timelessness and the timeliness of Dante’s masterpiece. By underlining the archetypal elements in the poem and drawing parallels to contemporary literature, Fowlie has brought Dante and his characters much closer to modern readers.

245 pages | illustrations | 5-7/8 x 9 | © 1981

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Table of Contents

1. The Dark Wood
2. The Three Ladies
3. The Vestibule (Acedia in Baudelaire and Eliot)
4. Limbo (First Circle)
5. The Carnal Sinners (Second Circle)
6. The Gluttons: Ciacco (Third Circle)
7. The Avaricious and Prodigal (Fourth Circle); the Wrathful and Sullen (Fifth Circle)
8. Wrath and the Gates of Dis
9. The Furies and the Angel
10. The Heretics: Farinata (Sixth Circle)
11. The Plan of Hell
12. Violence: The River of Blood (Seventh Circle)
13. The Suicides: Pier della Vigna
14. The Sandy Plain: Third Girone of the Violent
15. The Sodomites: Brunetto Latini (Eliot’s "Little Gidding")
16. The Wheel of the Three Florentines; Dante’s Cord
17. Geryon; the Usurers; the Descent to the Eigth Circle
18. Malebolge: The Panders and Seducers (First Bolgia); the Flatterers (Second Bolgia)
19. The Simonists: The Three Popes (Third Bolgia)
20. The Diviners: Tiresias (Fourth Bolgia)
21. The Barrators (Fifth Bolgia); Note on Beckett’s "Malacoda"
22. The Barrators (Fifth Bolgia)
23. Dante Rescued from the Fifth Bolgia; the Hypocrites (Sixth Bolgia)
24. The Difficulty in Reaching the Seventh Bolgia; the Thieves: Vanni Fucci
25. The Thieves (Seventh Bolgia)
26. The Evil Counselors: Ulysses and Diomedes (Eighth Bolgia)
27. The Evil Counselors: Guido da Mantefeltro (Eighth Bolgia: Eliot’s "Prufrock")
28. The Sowers of Discord: Bertrand de Born (Ninth Bolgia)
29. Falsifiers of Every Sort (Tenth Bolgia)
30. Virgil Reproves Dante (Twelfth Bolgia)
31. The Giants (Ninth Circle)
32. Cocytus: The Zones of Caina and Antenora
33. Antenora (Ugolino); Ptolomea
34. Judecca; Lucifer; the Ascent out of Hell
Note on Reading Dante Today
Selected Bibliography

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