Textual Reference to Divine Comedy and Odyssey

25 Nov

Textual Reference to Divine Comedy and Odyssey

In chapter “Canto of Ulysses”, Levi refers to Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, Inferno and makes connection with his journey to Lager camp while talking to Pikolo, the messenger and the cleaner. One of the references Levi mentioned from the “The Divine Comedy” was: “So on the open sea I set forth.” It refers to the journey to Lager camp. The open sea doesn’t have any limitations. It flows spontaneously and continuously. This refers to the situation Levi is going through. Levi and the prisoners will continue to suffer until they die and there will be no one to prevent the work and turmoil from happening.

He also refers to the “Canto of Ulysses” and the “Odyssey”. Levi talks about the journey of Ulysses and admits that he has done a terrible thing saying the story in prose: “….how sad, I have to tell it in prose- a sacrilege…….that none should prove so hardy to venture the uncharted distances”. This indicates that Levi is admitting that he didn’t tell the story accurately forgetting some of the lines from the “Divine Comedy”. The “uncharted distances” refers to the way to Lager camp when they were travelling inside a wagon. Levi hints at no matter how brave and courageous the person is, he/she will not be able to bear the pain and will be trapped inside the Lager camp forever.

There’s another reference to the “Divine Comedy” which is mentioned at the end of the chapter after Levi and Pikolo arrives in the kitchen and stand in a queue to get a bowl of soup, “And over our heads the hollow seas closed up.” The phrase refers to drowning of people which is similar to the title of chapter 9 which is “The Drowned and the Saved”. The phrase also indicates that if someone enters Lager camp, he/she will not get freedom. Instead, he/she will be exterminated.



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