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“Experience that Generates Experience”: The Influence of the Comedy in three South African Writings

  • Marco Medugno

This article aims to explore the intertextual relationships between Dante’s Divine Comedy and three pieces of creative writing: Chariklia Martalas’ “A Mad Flight into Inferno Once Again”, Thalén Rogers’ “The Loadstone” and Helena van Urk’s “The Storm”. By employing a comparative analysis, I argue that, even though decontextualised, the Comedy still represents a fruitful aesthetic source for representing particularly war-torn and violent contexts such as South Africa during apartheid and colonialism. I explore how the authors, through intertextual references and parodic rewriting, both re-configure the poem and challenge some of the Comedy’s moral assumptions and the idea of (divine) justice. I aim to show how Dantean Hell, far from being an otherworldly realm, is in fact transfigured and adapted to effectively represent (and make sense of) a historical context. In other words, through an intertextual analysis, this analysis tries to understand why and how the Comedy resonates with the South African socio-political (and literary) context.

  • Keywords:
  • intertextuality,
  • justice,
  • apartheid,
  • colonialism,
  • Inferno,
  • Purgatory,
  • re-writing,
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Marco Medugno

Newcastle University, United Kingdom - ORCID: 0000-0001-8986-8268

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  3. Barolini, Teodolinda. 1992. The Undivine Comedy: Detheologizing. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  4. Barolini, Teodolinda. 2014. “Paradiso 6: Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Digital Dante, <https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/paradiso/ paradiso-6/> (2021-08-31).
  5. Barolini, Teodolinda. 2014. “Inferno 31: Language and Punishment Hell.” Digital Dante, <https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/inferno/inferno-31/> (2021-08-31).
  6. Barolini, Teodolinda. 2014. “Purgatorio 2: The Earth Clock.” Digital Dante, <https:// digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/purgatorio/purgatorio-2/> (2021-08-31).
  7. Coetzee, J. M. 2002. Stranger Shores: Essays 1986–1999. London: Vintage.
  8. Contini, Gianfranco. 1976. Un’idea di Dante. Saggi danteschi. Torino: Einaudi editore.
  9. Farah, Nuruddin. 2005. Links. London: Duckworth & Co.
  10. Flint, John. 1974. Cecil Rhodes. New York: Little Brown & Co.
  11. Levi, Primo. 2004. If This is a Man and The Truce. London: Abacus. First published 1947, Turin.
  12. Mari, Lorenzo. 2018. Forme dell’interregno: Past Imperfect di Nuruddin Farah tra letteratura Post-coloniale e World Literature. Rome: Aracne.
  13. Medugno, Marco. 2020. “Dante in Mogadishu: The Divine Comedy in Nuruddin Farah’s Links.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 57 (1): 41–51.
  14. Mukherjee, Ankhi. 2010. “‘What Is a Classic?’: International Literary Criticism and the Classic Question.” Literary Criticism for the Twenty-First Century, special issue of Modern Language Association 125 (4): 1026–42.
  15. Newsinger, John. 2016. “Why Rhodes Must Fall.” Race & Class 58 (2): 70–8.
  16. Sedakova, Olga. 2012. Elogio della poesia, translated by Francesca Chessa. Rome: Aracne.
  17. Steinberg, Justin. 2019. “More than an Eye for an Eye: Dante’s Sovereign Justice.” In Ethics, Politics and Justice in Dante, edited by Giulia Gaimari and Catherine Keen, 80–93. London: UCL Press.
  18. Thomas, Kylie. 2018. “Exhuming Apartheid: Photography, Disappearance and Return.” Cahiers d’études africaines 57 (3): 429–54.
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  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Pages: 131-142
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
  • © 2021 Author(s)

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  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
  • © 2021 Author(s)

Chapter Information

Chapter Title

“Experience that Generates Experience”: The Influence of the Comedy in three South African Writings

Authors

Marco Medugno

Language

English

DOI

10.36253/978-88-5518-458-8.08

Peer Reviewed

Publication Year

2021

Copyright Information

© 2021 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

A South African Convivio with Dante

Book Subtitle

Born Frees’ Interpretations of the Commedia

Editors

Sonia Fanucchi, Anita Virga

Peer Reviewed

Number of Pages

212

Publication Year

2021

Copyright Information

© 2021 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Publisher Name

Firenze University Press

DOI

10.36253/978-88-5518-458-8

ISBN Print

978-88-5518-457-1

eISBN (pdf)

978-88-5518-458-8

Series Title

Studi e saggi

Series ISSN

2704-6478

Series E-ISSN

2704-5919

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