Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dante discussed in NYRB

Shaw emailed to point out an essay in the Jan. 11, 2007 New York Review of Books by Michael Dirda about Dante and Erich Auerbach's study of him entitled Dante: Poet of the Secular World.

According to Dirda,
Auerbach makes the seemingly paradoxical claim that it is in the poetry of Dante, supreme among religious poets, that the secular world of the modern novel first took imaginative form. An inspiring introduction to one of world’s greatest poets and a brilliantly argued essay in the history of ideas.
The full essay is available online for a fee, but Shaw has kindly offered to save the print version. A bit more about the book:

Dante: Poet of the Secular World
By Erich Auerbach
Introduction by Michael Dirda
Auerbach's study of Dante, a precursor and necessary complement to Mimesis, his magisterial overview of realism in Western literature, illuminates both the overall structure and the individual detail of Dante's work, showing it to be an extraordinary synthesis of the sensuous and the conceptual, the particular and the universal, that redefined notions of human character and fate and opened the way into modernity.
This is a book with all the freshness and excitement of new discovery. The excitement remains through all these years since it's writing. This account of Dante's poetry, from the moving springs of its style and the human presentness of its drama to the cosmic vision which produces and validates them both, an account based on history but shaped by a special sense of the issues, possesses a validity which no other book, past or present, can diminish.
— Theodore Silverstein, The University of Chicago

Auerbach offers the thought that for all its investment in the eternal and immutable, the Divine Comedy is even more successful in representing reality as basically human...The refinement of Auerbach's own writing about Dante is truly exhilarating to read, not just because of his complex, paradox-filled insights, but because of their Nietzschean audacity.

— Edward Said

No comments: