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In Dante's WakeReading from Medieval to Modern in the Augustinian Tradition$
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John Freccero, Danielle Callegari, and Melissa Swain

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264278

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264278.001.0001

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The Eternal Image of the Father

The Eternal Image of the Father

Chapter:
(p.81) The Eternal Image of the Father
Source:
In Dante's Wake
Author(s):

John Freccero

, Danielle Callegari, Melissa Swain
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823264278.003.0004

This chapter analyzes the image of the father in Dante's Commedia. In Inferno the theme of the meeting with a father image is characterized by irony, while the meeting with Cacciaguida in Paradiso appears to be the fulfillment of an allegorical referentiality, a partial truth glossed repeatedly and painstakingly until it is finally revealed at the ending of the poem. There is a sense in which the theme of the clash between father and son, when neither will yield, is illustrative of the clash of irony, where no resolution but death is possible between two antithetical yet equally plausible assertions. We might say that the oedipal struggle is the thematization of the atemporal and corrosive quality of ironic impasse. To introduce temporality into this impasse, however, and to order the past to the future with the mediating influenced of a third term in which both participate is to transform irony into allegory, and generational conflict into the unfolding of salvation history.

Keywords:   Divine Comedy, Dante, father image, Inferno, Paradiso, irony, allegory

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