Intertextuality of Dante’s Divine Comedy

24 Nov

In the novel If This is a Man, there are many references to other writings. This incorporation is called intertextuality. In chapter 11, Dante’s Divine Comedy is mentioned extensively. Specifically the 8th circle, Bologia 8, of which refers to a fraudulent advisor. In the novel, Levi is speaking to the Pikolo, who is an overseer of the Lager otherwise known as an advisor. He is attempting to teach him Italian by reciting the 8th circle and Bologia 8 of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He is doing this in a mocking tone towards the Pikolo. Fortunately, for Levi’s sake, the Pikolo does not understand what Levi is saying. This is significant to the novel because it shows how Levi still retains his humanity by being able to disrespect the ‘authority’ by mocking the Pikolo without his knowledge. Levi is still shown as being able to resist the dehumanization and the total disregard shown by the authority figures throughout the novel. In this analogy of the Pikolo being the fraudulent advisor, it makes the Lager symbolize hell.  The Lager symbolizes such a low stage of hell, the 8th circle, in which there is much evil. In conclusion, the intertextuality is significant to the novel and offers insight to Levi’s condition at that point in the novel.


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