Monday, September 19, 2016

Inferno 10

While our plan is to discuss Erich Auerbach's chapter entitled "Farinata and Cavalcante" (Mimesis ch. 8) on Wednesday, we might also look at Inferno 10 itself. The canto seems to hold special resonance for Auerbach, whose discussion, which gets deeply involved in the textual folds of one scene, goes far beyond it, with a surprising twist.

The Dartmouth version of canto 10 is here. It begins:

Ora sen va per un secreto calle,
tra 'l muro de la terra e li martìri,
lo mio maestro, e io dopo le spalle.

“O virtù somma, che per li empi giri
mi volvi,” cominciai, “com' a te piace,
parlami, e sodisfammi a' miei disiri.

La gente che per li sepolcri giace
potrebbesi veder? già son levati
tutt' i coperchi, e nessun guardia face.” 

Now onward goes, along a narrow path
  Between the torments and the city wall,
  My Master, and I follow at his back.

"O power supreme, that through these impious circles
  Turnest me," I began, "as pleases thee,
  Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;

The people who are lying in these tombs,
  Might they be seen? already are uplifted
  The covers all, and no one keepeth guard."

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