Tag Archives: romantic love

Dorothy Sayers on “romantic theology” in Dante Alighieri and Charles Williams

High resolution scan of engraving by Gustave D...

"The Souls of Paolo and Francesco," by Gustav Dore, illustrating Canto V of Dante's Inferno

The following are some reflections on Dorothy L. Sayers’s essay “Dante and Charles Williams,” published in The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays by Dorothy L. Sayers (New York: Collier Books, 1987):

Dorothy Sayers rarely wrote an uninteresting word–much less when talking about her chief late-life passion: the great Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri.

Like C. S. Lewis, Sayers saw in the quirky novelist, Dantist, and romantic mystic Charles Williams something of enduring value. Especially, she saw Williams as having grasped a crucial point about why Dante–and countless other historical figures–are still important to us today. [I posted here on how Sayers, Lewis, and Williams all drew different sorts of sustenance from that great poet.]

The point is this: Dante, despite the fact that he lived “long ago and far, far away,” was a human like us, with experiences in many respects like ours, and he is still of great value to us because he had acute insights into the truths behind those experiences, along with a poet’s ability to express those insights deeply and brilliantly. Continue reading

To be a Christian leader, one must transcend limited perspectives–so says Dante

Another clip from Patron Saints for Postmoderns. Dante’s story of his own salvation is also a story of the making of a Christian leader:

A Triune Salvation

Dante begins his poem with the confessional “midlife crisis”: “Once upon a time he had known the right way, la diritta via, la verace via; but he lost it, let it get overgrown and rank.” But as we get deeper into his epic poem, he mounts a sharp critique on his own irresponsible devotion to romantic love, his own intellectual pride and his own loyalty to party and to Florence. Dante the poet makes these character traits of Dante the pilgrim look less and less appropriate as he nears the Beatific Vision of God’s own person. In a stunning moment toward the end of Purgatorio Dante meets Beatrice again after a long separation. Continue reading