Introduction Lands of Darkness
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Introduction Lands of Darkness book
This chapter identifies a moment and isolates a theme in the Inferno in the belief that together they will supply a context for the exposition of a major impulse in modern literature. The moment occurs at the close of Canto XXIV in the encounter between the Pilgrim and Vanni Fucci, damned to the eighth circle in the bolgia of the thieves. Vanni Fucci is a progenitor of modern fiction. This fiction is distinguished from previous writings by its peculiarly punitive character. The contrast with modern fiction and its very different set of savage finales could not be more striking. Hence the pitiless character of modern fiction, its stark denial of mercy to its sufferers. Modern fiction is a re-enactment of Dante, but with Purgatorio and Paradiso omitted. Consider the very different treatment of the sufferer in modern fiction. The anguish is as real, but it is distanced.