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Den guddommelige komedie Paradiset

af Dante Alighieri

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Serier: The Divine Comedy (3)

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Having plunged to the uttermost depths of Hell and climbed the Mount of Purgatory in parts one and two of the Divine Comedy, Dante ascends to Heaven in this third and final part, continuing his soul's search for God, guided by his beloved Beatrice. As he progresses through the spheres of Paradise he grows in understanding, until he finally experiences divine love in the radiant presence of the deity. Examining eternal questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, Dante exercised all his learning and wit, wrath and tenderness in his creation of one of the greatest of all Christian allegories.… (mere)

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"Paradiset, Den gudomliga komedins tredje och sista del, bildar kronan på Dantes visionära diktverk. Vergilius, som har ledsagat Dante genom Helvetet och Skärselden, har nu lämnat honom, och han fortsätter ensam genom de nio rörliga himlarna upp till Empyrén, Guds och de saligas boning. Där förenas han med Beatrice, sin ungdoms älskade. I Paradiset finner man det klaraste uttrycket för det som är kärnan i Dantes budskap: tron på den himmelska världens existens och människans odödlighet."
  stenbackeskolan | Jan 12, 2021 |
54. Paradiso by Dante Alighieri
translation and notes: Jean Hollander & Robert Hollander
published: 1320, translation 2007
format: 956-page Paperback, with original Italian, translation and notes
acquired: September 2019
read: Sep 1 – Nov 9
time reading: 53 hr 53 min, 3.4 min/page
rating: 5
locations: 😇
about the author: Florentine poet, c. 1265 – 1321

A very different feel to this than Inferno or Purgatorio. There is a lot less narrative, and especially a lot less personal narrative. The short entertaining personal biographies are replaced with long, idea heavy speeches on theological issues, with philosophical explorations and a close look at St. Thomas, who is somewhat personified by Beatrice. It's also oddly all a little impersonal. When Dante sees what is essentially God, his questions are on the physics of the place. But curiosity drives all and book ends by Dante essentially saying the wheels of his mind are still churning.

This is a kind of science fiction as Dante travels through space - to the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in that order. (Each is a reference to a virtue. They are, in order, faith, hope, love, prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance.) The sun is a highlight and includes a somewhat famous dance of the stars. Whereas Saturn is mostly silent, as a place of contemplation. Each is a higher level of heaven. From Saturn Beatrice takes Dante to the starry sphere, in a way, outer space, and then up the Jacob's ladder to a crystalline sphere and then finally to Empyrean, a place where the saved souls of heaven reside in a kind of rose and listen to heavenly music. Here angels travel from God to the souls, acting like bees, bringing the nectar of god's love to the rose of saved souls. But when Dante turns to ask Beatrice about this, this Beatrice, "my sweet beloved guide", who has become more beautiful with each stage of the book, to points were Dante cannot handle her beauty, he finds in her place in old man. Beatrice has completed her mission with him and taken her own place in the rose. Dante will complete his own mission with this St. Bernard.

A few of these cantos have been criticized down the ages as essentially non-poetic philosophy, and some as outright dull. The many references within references are so obscure that some took hundreds of years to decipher and some remain mysterious making this some work. (Although the Hollander notes did all the work for the reader and it was more than enough and well appreciated. I found it interesting that Hollander argues Paradise probably needed more refinement and Dante ran out of time.) But it has many more meaningful moments than dull ones. Dante's prayer to Beatrice and St. Bernard's prayer to Mary near the end standout as quite beautiful and elegantly constructed.

Purgatory was Dante's mastery of his will. Paradise is where he learns mastery of his intellect. The desire of god and knowledge combined to one, the truth inseparable, expressed in a variety of ways, including ones that are sexually charged: “for drawing near to its desire, so deeply is our intellect immersed that memory cannot follow after it." But Dante is on a serious mission. He is trying to reason out the contractions of free will and an all knowing god, obsessed with justice not found on earth, and the contradiction of Christ's crucifixion (using his predecessors as guides). When he writes "the glory of the vengeance for His wrath” - the reference to is to Christ's sacrifice, and to the justice of it! Dante's world explains that this crucifixion was the only possible way to resolve Adam's original sin.

As in all these books, Paradise is heavily political for Dante and his age. And there are many personal elements. His ancestor prophesizes his exile, telling him “you shall learn how salt is the taste of another man’s bread and how hard is the way, going down and then up another man’s stairs." The down and up the stairs a reference to hoping for better news of his exile and failing to find it. He mentions in backhanded way that he personally prays to Mary twice day. And he always wonders about his world. Looking down from space, he see “the little patch of earth that makes us here so fierce”, and late in the Paradise asks God to “look down upon our tempests here below”. Rapture is had, even if Dante can't capture it because (1) he wasn't able to take it all in, (2) he isn't able to remember all of what he experienced and (3) he isn't able to express what he remembers in words. But it left him thinking.

But now my will and my desire, like wheels revolving
with an even motion, were turning with
the love that moves the sun and all the stars


2020
https://www.librarything.com/topic/322920#7326521 ( )
2 stem dchaikin | Nov 27, 2020 |
This is my second time reading this, and I think that because I knew how it was structured I was able to enjoy it better this time. The otherworldly preoccupations of Dante do not match the typical ones of our worldly time. The flamelike souls he encounters assemble into elaborate patterns as if this fourteenth century poet knew about computer graphics, as a sort of extension of the very last section of Purgatorio where he describes the allegorical pageant in Eden. And through it all, Dante's inspiration for his journey, Beatrice, becomes more and more idealized until she ends up as little more than an enraptured smile in the realm of the Empyrean. This is rarefied fare for the modern reader raised upon realism and natural depictions in literature. This is the least prosaic sections of the epic poem, and it might help to think of it in specifically non-prose terms, as if it were a very long song lyric maybe, where our expectations of what makes for a satisfying experience is not tied in with the same kind of storytelling tradition.
Along with the allegory comes a large helping of Scholastic philosophy, of medieval orthodoxy, and ecclesiastical inside politics. If we pay attention to the people who are described here, we recall that this is being written at the tail end of the centuries of Crusades, when the temporal power of the Church was close to its highest point. This can be a problem for many readers, and not even only the unbelievers. It can be a hard read for someone who is not already interested in saints and emperors and bishops, patriarchs and religious warriors, who fill these cantos. It's worth noting the way these encounters affect the pilgrim Dante: he becomes increasingly bedazzled, literally losing his sight at one point while witnessing these souls who now shine in the firmament. He is as star-struck as any present-day fan of celebrity might be.
I feel the best way to read Paradiso is to do it while enjoying the paintings and illuminations it has inspired over the centuries since, by Doré and Blake and Dalí and anonymous illuminators. Some of these really help convey the feeling of rapture Dante wants to instill. ( )
1 stem rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
He who casts off from shore to fish for truth
without the necessary skill does not return the same
as he sets out, but worse, and all in vain.


I enjoyed this final installment of the Divine Comedy, but I have to confess that it was my least favorite of the trilogy. The translation was nice, though lacking in some of the character and charm of Pinsky's Inferno and Merwin's Purgatorio (I didn't read the Hollanders' translation of the first two books). I just wasn't as engrossed in Dante's journey to the Empyrean. This is probably simply a failing on my part—or at least a mark against my literary sensibilities.

While occasionally overwhelming and tedious, the notes were copious and often very helpful. It would be interesting to see another contemporary poet of the caliber of Pinsky or Merwin translate this final installment someday. ( )
1 stem drbrand | Jun 8, 2020 |
1954 printing of 1931 reset ed. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
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Having plunged to the uttermost depths of Hell and climbed the Mount of Purgatory in parts one and two of the Divine Comedy, Dante ascends to Heaven in this third and final part, continuing his soul's search for God, guided by his beloved Beatrice. As he progresses through the spheres of Paradise he grows in understanding, until he finally experiences divine love in the radiant presence of the deity. Examining eternal questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, Dante exercised all his learning and wit, wrath and tenderness in his creation of one of the greatest of all Christian allegories.

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