In spite of all the sheer effort put behind it, Dante’s Paradiso is not easy to enjoy. It is an alliance between difficulty and controversy. It is a narration of Dante’s so called visit to
heaven, which seems tangible to no one but him. He slowly gives us his perceived account while inserting an archive of philosophical tidbits, which often divert the reader’s attention from the supposed plot. Dante claims himself gifted and says that all his said experiences are ones that he encountered first-hand. And so the reader is assumed to believe that the author is not in a make-believe world and his arguments with heavenly beings are actually marvelous adventures.
The theme is not relevant at all to the present, as scholars today would say that his ideas are primitive and unsubstantial. The only thing applicable to today be the fact that it is based on the timeless issue: the afterlife. And as he inserts his personal views in life, he does it in an authoritative method as his heavenly friends explain them to him. Now if the reader assumes this is all make-believe, it is tiresome to go on as the
book is direly detailed. On the other hand, if the reader believes Dante’s account, then I am afraid he is very misled. As many biblical verses are inserted in the text, it is quite bothersome that his explanations and fabulous stories take on a less dogmatic direction. It doesn’t seem right to quote religion to serve both misinterpreted purposes and claims to a divine philosophy. This dissenting view is the only social impact I can make out of the book. As I read on the translated verses looking for some conflict or climax, I reached neither. It just seems as if this popularly supposed story is intended to be educational just like a textbook. Nevertheless, it is not hard to see why Paradiso was dubbed a masterpiece. If the title of «masterpiece» is labeled upon the works of great worth, I am afraid entertainment value is not something distinguishable in this case even if there is an undoubtedly enormous amount of effort, skill, and thought that was invested in it. All the lines rhyme in pairs, and are written in deep Spanish. A rhyme scheme is followed and even literary formality is observed. Dante is obviously intellectual, as his work shows. It boasts of great depth and cerebral capacity. Although more factual than proverbial, this display of intelligence clearly shows that Paradiso has a high prerequisite for understanding. His words and narration appeal to the emotions as well, as detailed work almost regularly accomplishes.
He describes his feelings of awe, curiosity, and incapability as a mortal to comprehend the ways of the divine in words so deep, so brief, and yet so filled with his emotional intent. Why all of these good traits still fail to interest the reader is possibly the effect of the fact that Paradiso is written to contain Dante’s thoughts and meaning and not ours. And so, as with most other things, it is the creator who appreciates his fruit the most. I may be counted among those who appreciate only the effort, but not the fruit. I find Paradiso to be a thick pulp of philosophical fragments. It is a narrative nothing and yet has room for controversy. It has all the elements of a commendable story without a commendable story line. I would not recommend it to anyone except those who have a lot of time on their hands, as I deduce it to be a waste of time.
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