Spring 1983 • Vol. V No. 2 Nonfiction |

Imagining Human Action

The long narrative poem has two particularly rich devices for exhibiting the significance of human action, the use of extended analogies (in the form of allegory or simile) and the construction of a complex temporal framework for the story. In Dante's Inferno, for example, at least three different contexts are related analogically: the historical world, the world of the poem, and a spiritual reality which cannot be directly described. The abstract structure which relates all three is God's moral order, and the world of the poem also serves as intermediary between the other two. The story of Dante's descent to the ninth circle from Good Friday to Easter 1400 is made temporally complex by the memories and prophecies which he and Vergil interject, as well as the souls and demons they encounter. Likewise in the Aeneid memory and prophecy relate the lost world of Troy, Aeneas's arrivals in Carthage and Italy, and Augustan Rome. Analogy and the trope of complex temporality are not mer

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Marathon

By Emily Grosholz

The long narrative poem has two particularly rich devices for exhibiting the significance of human action, the use of extended analogies (in the form of allegory or simile) and the […]

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