Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    sympathy is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    75
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default could you please help me with this passage

    Hi everyone, I’ve been struggling with this passage for several days. However, I still have many problems with it. Can you help me ? Don’t think that I’m lazy. I just can’t find out the answer. I tried all kind of dictionary: Longman, Oxford, but …

    This passage, written by John Fiske in the late 1800s, offers the author’s perspective on what he says are two kinds of genius.

    There are two contrasted kinds of genius, the poetical and the philosophical; or, to speak yet more generally, the artistic and the critical. The former is distinguished by a concrete, the latter by an abstract, imagination. The former sees things synthetically, in all their natural complexity; the latter pulls things to pieces analytically and scrutinizes their relations. The former sees a tree in all its glory, where the latter sees an exogen with a pair of cotyledons. The former sees wholes, where the latter sees aggregates.

    Corresponding with these two kinds of genius, there are two classes of artistic productions. When the critical genius writes a poem or a novel, he constructs his plot and his characters in conformity to some prearranged theory, or with a view to illustrate some favorite doctrine.When he paints a picture, he first thinks how certain persons would look under certain given circumstances, and paints them accordingly. When he writes a piece of music, he first decides that this phrase expresses joy, and that phrase disappointment, and the other phrase disgust, and he composes accordingly.We therefore say ordinarily that he does not create, but only constructs and combines. It is far different with the artistic genius, who, without stopping to think, sees the picture and hears the symphony with the eyes and ears of imagination, and paints and plays merely what he has seen and heard. When Dante, in imagination, arrived at the lowest circle of hell, where traitors like Judas and Brutus are punished, he came upon a terrible frozen lake, which, he says, “Ever makes me shudder at the sight of frozen pools.” I have always considered this line a marvelous instance of the intensity of Dante’s imagination. It shows, too, how Dante composed his poem.He did not take counsel of himself and say: “Go to, let us describe the traitors frozen up to their necks in a dismal lake, for that will be most terrible.” But the picture of the lake, in all its iciness, with the haggard faces staring out from its glassy crust, came unbidden before his mind with such intense reality that, for the rest of his life, he could not look at a frozen pool without a shudder of horror. He described it exactly as he saw it; and his description makes us shudder who read it after all the centuries that have intervened.

    So Michelangelo, a kindred genius, did not keep cutting and chipping away, thinking how Moses ought to look, and what sort of a nose he ought to have, and in what position his head might best rest upon his shoulders. But, he looked at the rectangular block of Carrera marble, and beholding Moses grand and lifelike within it, knocked away the environing stone, that others also might see the mighty figure. And so Beethoven, an artist of the same colossal order, wrote out for us those mysterious harmonies which his ear had for the first time heard; and which, in his mournful old age, it heard none the less plainly because of its complete physical deafness. And in this way, Shakespeare wrote his Othello; spinning out no abstract thoughts about jealousy and its fearful effects upon a proud and ardent nature, but revealing to us the living concrete man, as his imperial imagination had spontaneously fashioned him.
    I have several questions.
    1)Who is Dante ? And what is “the lowest circle of hell” ? Maybe he is a literary figure so I can’t know him. Can you briefly explain that for me ?
    2)What does “this line” refer to ? The author are discussing about the “terrible frozen lake”, so what does “the line” mean ? Why does it demonstrate that Dante is “intensively” imaginative ?
    3)What does “take counsel of” mean ? What about “go to” ?
    4)I don’t understand what “traitors frozen up to their necks” has to do with the lake ? Can you explain that ?
    5)What do “the haggard faces” and “crust” mean ? I think that sinful people are punished by being frozen, so why there is a Danta (the poet) starring out ?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    185
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could you please help me with this passage

    He's an Italian poet and the references you need to understand this text are from The Divine Comedy - a very long poem in three books - Inferno (hell), Purgatory and Paradise.

    In Inferno, which this passage is talking about the character of Dante is being taken on a guided tour of hell and seeing all the unpleasant punishments of various sinners.

    For a bit of background information on Dante Alghieri (born 1265) go to this site:
    Dante Alighieri and early Italian Poetry

  3. #3
    sympathy is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    75
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could you please help me with this passage

    THANKS James. It turns out that a character of Dante go to hell, not Dante.
    Thanks you.

    Can you explain the meaning of "the line" ? I still don't get it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    14
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could you please help me with this passage

    This line referes to the previous passages of the text "...lower circle of hell ... “Ever makes me shudder at the sight of frozen pools." The author (John Fiske) regards this part of the text (this line) as a marvelous instance of the intensity of Danteš imagination.

    Take counsel of
    My dictionary says that the phrase take counsel of is an archaic analogy of consult with or confer with, but it seems to me the phrase take counsel with could mean without hesitation in Fiske's text (I am not sure).

    Traitors frozen up to their necks.
    These traitors are frozen in the lake, their body are under the ice and only their heads stick out above the frozen lake surface.

    Go to
    It sounds to me like an analogy of Go on. (Let's go on in our narration (go to), let us describe the traitors frozen up to their necks in a dismal lake, for that will be most terrible.”

    The haggard faces staring out from its glassy crust.
    I'm not sure but it seems the haggard (gaunt, scragged and probably convulsed) faces are covered with an glassy (icy and transparent) crust (coating) through which they stare out.

    Please correct me if my explanation is wrong.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    185
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could you please help me with this passage

    "...he says, “Ever makes me shudder at the sight of frozen pools.” I have always considered this line a marvelous instance of the intensity of Dante’s imagination. "

    The writer means the line of poetry ' Ever makes me shudder at the sight of frozen pools'.

    Do you know where the passage of text has been taken from?

  6. #6
    sympathy is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    75
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could you please help me with this passage

    Thanks, Xeraph and James.
    Now I understand it. The line means "poem line" :D
    and "take counsel of himself" means "without hesitation". :D

Similar Threads

  1. Correct mistakes in passage
    By Wai_Wai in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 27-Mar-2008, 07:27
  2. short passage
    By kohyoongliat in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 28-Mar-2007, 05:46
  3. Passage for Year 2 students
    By kohyoongliat in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 27-Mar-2007, 09:18
  4. short passage
    By kohyoongliat in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-Mar-2007, 16:33
  5. i need yourhelp (how do i start at the beginning a passage) ??
    By superstar in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Apr-2005, 11:21

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •