In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

d'avoir pille I'ceuvre du poHe fran,ais en veritable brigand, seuJement pour se distancer de l'auteur en clepit d'une dette enorme. En effet, Pater ne mentionnera que deux fois directement et une fois indirectement celui it qui il etait redevable pour une importante partie de son inspiration. Viennent ensuite, successivement, Oscar Wilde, qui aurait exploite Ie cliche de decadence; Symons, qui aurait ceuvre dans Ie sens de la modernite et de la conjoncture urbaine; Sitwell et autres, dont Camille Mauelair qui aurait clepasse Baudelaire; Les Imagistes; John Middleton Murry; et, dernier en liste mais non Ie moindre, T.S. Eliot. Ce poete fera retentir la voix de Baudelaire it travers sa poesie des Ie debut, apprendon . Et, it I'exemple d'un Swinburne, il n'hesitera jamais it admettre I'influence du poete fran,ais sur son ceuvre. Pour terminer, c'est une etude it ne pas manquer. Madame Clements nous convie it participer aux grandioses peripeties d'une filiation litteraire France-Angleterre ou tous les echos communiquent la fleur intuition du genie it son meiJIeur. (DENIS BOUCHARD) Stewart Farnell. The Political Ideas of 'The Divine Comedy': An Introduction University Press of America. viii, '44. $20.50, $8.75 paper This little book actually belies its title, since less than half its space is devoted to Dante's political ideas. Instead, the four central chapters retell schematically the entire narrative of the Comedy, with fulsome theological explanation and periodic commentary on selected passages. Though we are told repeatedly that Dante wanted a stronger Empire for discipline in the human virtues and a Church freed from greed and devoted to higher things, there are some strange inclusions and omissions in the course of this journey. It slowly emerges that 'political' is a surrogate for 'earthly' (pp 91-2). Thus one concludingchapter recapitulates at length some quite general themes, with only a few pages on politics ('his explicitly political ideas: p 116). Its topic is really the place of the temporal and terrestrial in the celestial and spiritual unity that is the vision of the Comedy. The last chapter embarks on a modish but inept analogy of the two powers' ideal relations with federalism (an image of precisely what Dante was attacking about the medieval Church). The book opens with an account of Dante's life and the content of his other works, in which Farnell lays down two familiar hermeneutic principles: the distinction between the pilgrim and the poet, and the four senses of Scripture transferred to the Comedy by Dante the critic. The first principle he applies cleverly to show that contemplative detachment is not the last word in the Paradiso (pp 98-104, where the same triplet of events in the narrative is expounded three times, however). The second he applies mechanically to structural elements as well as content, finding a HUMANITIES 143 moral sense for all the places in Dante's universe. For Hell, this has the astonishing result that 'People mischoose out of ignorance' (pp 27- 8, 114-15), a thesis that undermines everything Dante ever said about liberum arbitrium, free choice. Farnell has made the infernal consequence of sin (loss of the good of the intellect) over into its cause; this is not even good Virgil (Aristotle) on consilium, let alone Beatrice (theology). Not enough notice is taken of the fact that the Garden of Eden, though pretty, is empty (pp 70-2, 112-13). No one dwells there even for a time, save Dante as spectator of a pageant personal to him. Souls can hardly be said to enjoy it (p 38), since they arrive there only to go on. Heaven and Hell clearly have an anagogical meaning, and Eden an allegorical one, but none of them a moral. The ambiguity about Eden connects, however, with anotherambiguity. Farnell never answers the 'vexed question' whether the Comedy overcomes the dualism of human ends set forth in the Monarchy (p 17 n 1). Or rather, he answers affimatively in an early paragraph (pp 97-8), as befits a scheme in which the Eden of man's natural perfection can only be reached by supernatural means (p 53); but then he gradually restores the...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 142-143
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.