A prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, liberation and the profound transformation of every man and woman, of all humanity
– Pope Francis on Dante
An epic poem running into 14,233 lines, an allegorical exploration of hell and purgatory to reach paradise and a quest to understand the authentic self and the transcendental meaning of existence – Dante Alighieri has given much to the world. With Italy and literary circles celebrating his 750th birth anniversary this month, all awe and criticism once again turn the Divine Comedy’s way. Wondering about a 700-year-old text’s relevance in this century? Well, we are talking Dante and to say his masterpiece is a timeless revolution wouldn’t be way off the mark. Over his oft-didactic narrative and theological inferences, Dante leaves readers with gruesome yet alluring imagery, the knack to examine status-quo and a careful look at the duality in life.
The Newyorker has more:
Though he may be force-fed to seventh graders, applauded in the Senate, and praised by the Holy See, Dante is, as a writer, unmistakably anti-authoritarian. He looks around and what he sees is hypocrisy, incompetence, and corruption. And so he strikes out, not just at the Popes, whom he turns upside down and stuffs in a hole, but also at Florence’s political leaders, whom he throws into a burning tomb, and his own teacher, whom he sets running naked across scorching sand.