27 October, 2009

Manganiello on Dante and Eliot

Citing Pound's acknowledgment of Eliot as "the true Dantescan voice" of the modern world, Manganiello explores Dante's influence on Eliot, outlining Eliot's literary, thematic, and theological/philosophical indebtedness to the Florentine poet (Qtd. Manganiello, 1). Manganiello draws a connection between Eliot's preoccupation with "Death By Water" and Dante's Ulysses, recognizing in both the same core recognition of the dangers of seeking without faith, but finding Eliot's development of this theme in "Marina" to mirror more closely the pilgrim Dante's own journey. The motif of exodus which Dante uses throughout his Purgatorio similarly informs "The Waste Land" and "The Hollow Men," developing into garden imagery reminiscent of Dante's Earthly Paradise with the utterance of the Word in the desert. Underlying these thematic similarities is, however, a deeper correspondence between the two poets, manifested in their parallel political views, that consists in their common understanding of experience in time as having meaning only in relation to the timelessness of the "love which moves the sun and the other stars." Manganiello's argument focuses on Eliot's major poems, but takes into account his essays and minor poems to assemble a complete model of his thought; he also balances close readings of passages that show a peculiar degree of linguistic similarity to Dante's work with a fine attention to the philosophical arc of the poetry.

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