July 29, 2011

Dante to Shakespeare to Goethe

Interesting lines from the Chesterton biography by William Oddie. I didn't realize he GKC wrote of the difference between Dante and Milton:
"It was the intense reality in their [medieval] religion which marks, for instance, the hell and heaven of the great mediaeval poet, filled with his own Florentine neighbors, as opposed to the vague renaissance mythology of the great poem of Milton. It was a religion dark, narrow, sometimes savagely ascetic, but it was not a sham religion: it was felt as real by those who professed it."
Interesting that Chesterton thought Dante's vision was "dark, narrow and sometimes savagely ascetic." He goes on to say that there were "three ages of ethical poetry in Europe": from Dante, as representing the dark but vivid medieval religion, to Shakespeare, in whom the human interest was extended more liberally to the whole human race, and then to Goethe, representing the modern, ethical, skeptical school.

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