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Virtuous Evildoers

At the end of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Brutus and ­Cassius, the conspirators who had assassinated Caesar, are themselves dead. Brutus has, in fact, fallen upon his sword rather than face capture by the armies of Octavius and Mark Antony. Brutus was bad enough to betray and murder a . . . . Continue Reading »

Out of a Dark Wood

How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem
  by rod dreher 
 regan, 320 pages, $29.95 In 2011, Rod Dreher returns to his hometown in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, after years living elsewhere in pursuit of a (highly successful) journalistic . . . . Continue Reading »

Dante's Heavenly Idealism

The great French historian Jacques Le Goff credited Dante with doing more than any theologian to make purgatory a meaningful part of Christian tradition, and, more recently, Jon M. Sweeney has argued that Dante practically invented the modern idea of hell. Whatever the merits of these claims, I would like to suggest that Dante exercised a similar influence on the Christian understanding of heaven—and that this influence is not what Dante’s many modern devotees might suspect. Continue Reading »

The Poetry of Paradise

Paradiso by dante alighieri translated by robert and jean hollander doubleday, 944 pages, $40 With the publication of Paradiso, Robert and Jean Hollander have completed their landmark translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, begun with the Inferno in 2000 and followed by Purgatorio in 2003. Reading . . . . Continue Reading »

The Population of Hell

Sometimes the complaint is heard that no one preaches about hell any longer. The subject of hell, if not attractive, is at least fascinating, as any reader of Dante’s Inferno or Milton’s Paradise Lost can testify. Equally fascinating, and decidedly more pressing, is the question of how many of . . . . Continue Reading »

Victims Unlimited

In this highly individualistic age, it is probably safe to assume about every victim what Tolstoy at the beginning of Anna Karenina assumes about every unhappy family: that each is unhappy in his or her own way. This could mean that to think about victimization now is to be overwhelmed with an . . . . Continue Reading »

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