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Great Books Reading and Discussion Group
  Illustration by Sandro Botticelli: Dante and Virgil visit the first two Bolgie of the eighth circle  
Alumni meet monthly to discuss one of the classics of literature

Cost: free, apart from the cost of food & drink
No Registration Required
The Great Books Reading Group continues its exploration of the character of Odysseus throughout literature from Homer to the present.

At our March meeting, we will discuss The Inferno, the first canticle of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, one of the greatest works of Medieval Europe and indeed in all of Literature. The Inferno involves Dante's descent into Hell, as guided by the renewed Roman poet Virgil. As such, it is an examination of sin in all its manifestations in preparation for the later journey toward Heaven and redemption. As Dante descend through the nine circles of Hell, he encounters numerous historical and fictional characters, including, of course, our hero Odysseus (Ulysses here) in the eighth circle (fraud) for his deception of the Trojan Horse. Ulysses recounts the story of his last voyage (an invention of Dante).

Not only is The Divine Comedy an important religious and allegorical work, but it is also one of the masterpieces of Italian writing. There are multiple fine translations into English. Here are some recommended ones. John Sinclair: Classic, literal, readable prose translation with facing Italian and just the right amount of notes; the one to use if you want to read the Italian. Mark Musa: Underrated; English blank verse; excellent notes (and also, just the right amount of them). Clive James: He uses quatrains and interpolates all the notes he thinks are necessary into the text; almost a paraphrase, really. Inferno by Robert Pinsky: Many people really like this one which uses a slant rhyme version of Dante's Terza Rima.

The plan is to discuss Purgatorio on April 25 and Paradiso on May 23. For an overview of the proposed long-term schedule for our study of Odysseus, please see our Google Doc

Event Contact
Larry Brown PhD, 1992

Staff Liaison
Ritu Prasad, AB'14


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Event Information
Monday, Mar 28 2016 at 6:15pm - 8:00pm [ iCal ]
Agora Restaurant
1527 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA
[ Get Directions ]