An Irish Dante, Part II- A Dantean Afterlife

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In Part I of this essay on an ‘Irish Dante’, I noted that Ireland’s unique relationship with the Florentine poet begins with the possibility that medieval Irish vision literature may have influenced the Commedia profoundly. Literary representations of the afterlife, especially in the narratives of the knights Owein and Tnugdalus and in the voyage narrative of St Brendan, find echoes in Dante’s work. In Part II, I want to examine instances from modern Irish literature in which the stream of influence flows in the other direction. Just as Dante himself drew on earlier medieval vision narratives in order to bring forth a monumental and original composition, so too we find a translational and creative engagement with Dante’s legacy in the leading literary figures of twentieth-century Ireland.

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Daragh O’Connell