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Coleridge, De Quincey, Burroughs, Ginsberg....and Dante?

The first four were all noted users, and a Dante scholar, or Dantist if you will, suggests that Durante Degli Alighieri was also one of their number. More here

"In her latest book, Dante: The Poet, the Political Thinker, The Man, the 92-year-old [Barbara] Reynolds provocatively suggests cannabis or aloe could have fuelled some of the Divine Comedy's visionary moments".

Italian opinion is divided, with another Dantist noting "Dante was forced to become a member of Florence's Herbalists' Guild as a way into city politics. "He shows elsewhere that he had a solid knowledge of herbal remedies and knew what plants to use for remedies. "Why shouldn't he have tried out other plants to give his imagination a boost".

Others are appalled: "But Italy's Dante Association was sniffy about the idea, saying "this is not a credible hypothesis". "There has recently been a widespread and regrettable tendency to project all our vices onto Dante, even the guiltiest ones," said the association's president, Guglielmo Gorni. One of Italy's two great Dante popularisers, scholar and broadcaster Vittorio Sermonti, called the notion of an acid-dropping (sic) Dante "completely idiotic".

So, is it the case that "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom", or "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate"?

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Anonymous verity said... 12:43 am

"...the 92-year-old [Barbara] Reynolds provocatively suggests cannabis or aloe could have fuelled some of the Divine Comedy's visionary moments".


Is there, today, anyone who created art that touches all of humanity who hasn't been accused of creating it in a cannabis dream rather than having been divinely inspired?

Maybe when 92-year old Barbara Roberts was 70 years younger, in 1915, this may have been a rather exciting premise.

Just a guess here, but has she also suggested he was gay? These dated iconoclasts usually do.  

Blogger dizzy said... 8:30 am

Having read The Inferno recently I automaticalyl assumed Dante was off his head on something.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 9:39 am

I've heard sillier theories - Gaddafi is convinced Shakespeare was an Arab.  

Blogger the Librarian said... 9:53 am

'... has she also suggested he was gay? '

'Quando voi eravate ancora scimmie, noi eravamo gia' froci' , graffito on a florentine palazzo wall quoted by Roberto Benigni to roars of laughter from thousands of Florentines packed into piazza Santa Croce to hear his readings and interpretations of Dante last summer.

Of course he was gay, it's a rite of passage (so to speak).  

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