SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reworking Dante and himself (2)

This passage has remained basically the same as in Gerusalemme Liberata 3:6 (N.B. one whole Canto before, in comparison with the much longer Gerusalemme Conquistata), though Tasso refined some terms, e.g. "Auster" instead of a simple "wind," and added some 'special effects,' especially sounds that were among his favorite details.

But what matters more is a 'shocking' poetical operation, unchanged in both poems. In fact, the description refers to the Crusaders' reaction the first time they see Jerusalem from afar. And their feeling are expressed with a quotation from Dante. Good. Just . . .  it is a scene Dante saw in hell, cf. Inferno 3: 22-30! Such hidden, paradoxical jokes are common in Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, but much less so in Tasso's works.

Is he just joking? Or suggesting that heaven and hell are mixed together - on this occasion, like in everything? And one cannot help thinking about Books 1-2 in Milton's Paradise Lost.