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T. S. Eliot's appreciation for Dante Alghieri's Divine Comedia is not a scholar's appreciation but a poet's, as one to another. Eliot in several talks and essays throughout his academic and literary career consistently referred to the majesty of Dante's masterpiece, finding no other poet "whom I could apply continually, for many purposes, and with much profit."

Against critics who called the Divine Comedy a case study in medieval philosophy with poetic value for a modern audience, Eliot countered with: "Dante, more than any other poet, has succeeded in dealing with his philosophy, not as a theory...or as his own comment or reflection, but in terms of something perceived." The characters Dante meets in the afterlife are the same modern readers find alive. Many of Eliot's earlier work incorporate damned self-imprisonment of souls similar to the suffering in the Inferno, and this is evident in poems such as The Hollow Men and The Waste Land. Later there is a change in the character of suffering, a Purgatorial suffering on its road to Paradise, which inspires certain passages of Ash Wednesday and Little Gidding.

    The articles on the right are part of my ENG 555 class project, to present and describe the connections Eliot had to Dante's work. There are several links to Eliot's poetry which contain clear and explicit Dantean themes, as well as online versions of his essays and talks on Dante. I have selected a few poems which have several Dantean influences and present a summary of those themes in relation to Eliot's incorporated work. A link also takes you to my blog for the project, where I would appreciate comments for further discussion on this topic.
- Charlie

Picture copyrights: Dante and Virgil Encountering the Shades of Francesca and Paolo, Ary Scheffer, ca. 1845;  http://www.iiclosangeles.esteri.it/IIC_LosAngeles/webform/SchedaEvento.aspx?id=28
        Photograph of T. S. Eliot, http://faculty.mccfl.edu/Jonesj/enl2022/2022syllabus.html