Arrears blogging: September 14 -- Orals

When you click on the online Reading Guide for this date, you get Cantos 24 and 25 of Dante's Inferno, filled with monsters and curses and people being turned into snakes and forced to meld with each other. Sick, right? But it turns out that's not the actual reading. The actual reading is Cantos 24 and 25 of the Paradiso, and instead of mindbending creatures, we get scholastic philosophy:

Rightly hast thou deem’d,”
Was answer’d; “if thou well discern, why first
He hath defined it substance, and then proof.”
Will Dante answer the questions correctly? Or will he screw up and assume that which he's supposed to define? The answers will be found in Divine Comedy III: Enter The Logician I suppose in those 13th-century days anyone who could read the Inferno also had his fill of Aquinas and the like, so it was a more relatable test, but still, this shows you why it's so hard for sequels to work, especially the third one. (The translation doesn't help, either, and I'm without my own Virgil -- Pinsky's version -- which got me through the Inferno excerpts.)

The super-theological content of this reading also reminds me that, considering the American intellectual climate of 1908, the Harvard Classics isn't really all that Christian. I think this is a good thing because education is supposed to be broadening -- stuff you didn't know, by definition -- and people talking about Christianity you can find on AM radio. Or the House of Representatives.

0 comments: