Inferno: The Cantica of Artful Horror

Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno”, only one part of the Divine Comedy though hailed by many as the most compelling of the three canticas, deserves to be called a literary classic because it is not only an exceptional example of classical literary horror, but it is also a representation of how medieval people envision hell.  It is a blend of grotesque monsters and historical figures whose binding tie is sin in its many forms.

Alighieri invites the reader to enter the nine circles of hell; the deeper the circle, the more serious the sin.  Unlike most contemporary horror that showcase graphic violence wrought by horrifying monsters or a more intellectual and atmospheric environment, Alighieri attempts to create horror that is both gruesome and intelligently peopled by real historical people and real sins.  Moreover, the reader can almost believe his version of what hell’s landscape is like.

The Inferno explores the edge of limbo to the innermost circle of the Malebolge.  In each step of the journey, depictions of suffering bring the reader to an awareness of base human desires making him or her face the reality that people help create the nine circles of hell by living sinfully.  A piece of literature that is still remembered after more than 700 years must be considered a literary classic representing a genre that may not receive as many praises as others.  Though a classic piece that touches on views of the Christian afterlife, true to its horror genre “Inferno” still shocks and frightens.

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