Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Emerson Was Right

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." The promise I made to read through my poetry shelves from A to Z? Foolish. I almost made it through most of Dante Alighieri's Inferno before I piled the book and my notes on top of the big dictionary, where leftover papers often gather, and drove as quick as the law allows to the library. I've lounged and loved the couple of mysteries I plucked off the new-books shelves and feel better for it. At least I don't fall asleep at every third page.

I once spent an interim semester (that long break between fall and spring semesters) on Dante, and I seem to have stuck with that, if my transcript can be believed. But the slogging through hell is no longer something I want. What did impress me was Alighieri's talent for the truly terrible scene, an imagination that leaves Hollywood a distant second for inventing torture and fear and gore and all things scary and ugly. I am surprised some desperate producer hasn't tried to make a film of the Inferno. Of course, given my resistance to filmed violence, maybe such a movie exists and I have successfully put it out of mind. Hurray for that.

Let me say, quickly, that I do not hold John Ciardi's translation responsible for my many unscheduled cat naps this past week. He did a fine job of turning medieval Tuscan language into contemporary English, all the while maintaining a strong semblance of the rhyme and structure which Dante so masterfully created. No, the lack is in me. I'm a vagabond reader. Always have been, always will be. Now, I'm off to see what other book winks at me from the bottom of the library tote.

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