By Colin Manlove
This is the 1st account of invented tales related to the Christian supernatural. of their improvement a valuable quandary is located to be the fantasy-making human mind's eye itself, before everything noticeable as a trouble to Christian function, yet extra lately given freer rein.
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Extra info for Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present
Much of Dante's originality in the Commedia arises from his treatment of the classics - the auctores as they were known in his day. These authors - who include writers from the pseudo-Homer, [uvenal, Ovid and Virgil to Augustine, Prudentius, Martianus Capella and even Bernardus Silvestris - were used as storehouses of wisdom in such disciplines as law, science, medicine, philosophy, music, astronomy and even theology. Their sayings were often learnt by heart. As contributors to the body of human knowledge the pagan writers among them were not radically distinguished from the Christians: even the new texts of Aristotle which were discovered in the twelfth century and banned by the Church were eventually assimilated into Aquinas's Summa Theologica (1266-74) .
The culture of northern Italy was approaching the high point of renaissance. The new universities were flourishing. The confidence of the Christian faith had perhaps never been so great, nor its influence so pervasively felt in every aspect of life: no more was it the Church embattled, as in the first thousand years of its history, nor the Church militant, as in its crusades against Islam, but was nearer the Church triumphant; the danger was rather that it might become the Church corrupt. For a time Dante nourished hopes that through the Emperor Henry VII the time of universal peace and of a world state was near.
And Dante has them all, like Virgil's shades, acutely - and in the case of the infernal shades obsessively - aware of their lives or of politics on earth. " We are further detached from them and placed in an assessing role by the fact that the journeying Dante is most commonly an observer rather than a participant - in contrast to George MacDonald's Anodos, say, in Fairy Land, or C. S. Lewis's Ransom on Venus, both of whom have to become direct actors in the worlds they enter and mediate. Again, while we do have a Dante: The 'Commedia' 29 strong sense of the overall form of each of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, they are all so subdivided into units, into deepening or expanding circles of graded sin or spiritual renewal, that we are not allowed to rest in any one vision but are continually shifted from one context to another, as part of a regulated investigation of each world.
Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present by Colin Manlove