Friday, January 27, 2012

The Comedy

Here a note triggered by a post on Laudator today (“Did Adam Laugh Before the Fall?”)—and its chain of references. In my youth, long before I’d ever read it, or knew anything about the history of the title, I used to take great comfort in The Divine Comedy—and even more later when, in my college days, I became mad about theater and took a minor in Drama. This comfort may have come from my mother, but in any case it delighted me to think that at the Highest there was Laughter. Later I learned that my delight hadn’t been intended, actually. The work was originally La commedia di Dante Alighieri; someone else added the Divina and took the author out of the title. To modernize the sound of that, if I wrote something today and meant what Dante had meant by his title, I would call the work The story of Arsen Darnay. Commedia meant, self-deprecatingly, common or low art, popular, for the people, written in the ordinary language, not in Latin. Furthermore, it ended happily—whereas the “serious” stuff never did. That post today also made me wonder: Did Genghis Khan ever Laugh? Did Stalin? Did Hitler? Did Homer? Just kidding…

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