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Literature/Dante's Inferno

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Hello.

I honestly trust you with this assignment, Maria, due to my passionate obsession with Italians, Italy, and all the true obscure beauty and character in each of them. Back to my assignment, I wish to powerfully captivate my AP [Advanced Placement] English Literature teacher in my writing. I have a 77 currently due to my incomprehensible choice of diction or at least what is told to me by my teacher.

Assignment: Write your own modern canto of Dante's Inferno with the choice of sin and punishment of specifically named figures from modern [1940's-Present] society [political leaders, actors, singers, celebrities, etc.] You must also choose your own 'Dante' as well as write in Prose or Poetry.

Basically, my mind is having trouble grasping the general assignment and how I could differentiate my assignment from others among the classroom. I am so very eager to please and that is just the nature of my personality, nothing to change that pertaining to me, so I wish for your; advice, tips, and techniques.

Answer
Hello,

Apart from the fact that such an assignment sounds quite strange to me for I think that Dante’s Divine Comedy must be read and admired in its historical and literary context  as one of the greatest works of world literature, here are some helpful tips:

1)firstly choose some figures among  political leaders, actors, singers, celebrities from modern society [1940's-Present] that are characterized by some sins such as lust, gluttony, anger, violence, greed, fraud, treachery, and  inflict them what you think  to be a suitable punishment just “resembling or contrasting with the sin itself", like Dante’s “contrapasso” (see Dante’s Inferno, canto XXVIII, line 142:"Così s’osserva in me lo contrapasso").

2)secondly decide if you want to write in prose or poetry. I think however that it would be easier to write in prose, for poetry would need Dantean tercets and rhymes: which would be very difficult .

To conclude, I think that you have to deal with a difficult subject, though I believe that such an assignment serves no useful purpose, because it does not help you in understanding and admiring the greatness of Dante’s Comedy, since it would be a kind of futile attempt to imitate Dante from a modern viewpoint.

Best regards,
Maria

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Maria

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I am an expert in Italian, Latin and Ancient Greek Literature.

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Over 25 years teaching experience

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy). My graduation thesis was about ancient Greek drama: I carried out a detailed research on Aeschylus.

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