Magazine October 18, 2021, Issue

Dante’s World

Dante Alighieri (Crisfotolux/Getty Images)

I remember­ — it was years ago, when I was teaching undergraduates about the great monotheistic traditions — that I would darken the room and then ask the students to close their eyes. “Imagine the cosmos is a self-contained sphere,” I would say — roughly — and then, “imagine you are standing in the center of it.”

I thought of that exercise after I’d accepted the assignment to write on reading Dante Alighieri, who died 700 years ago on September 14. I suspect that the memory of the old teaching exercise occurred to me because I have been thinking a lot

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