Latest ping: four minutes ago. 11.5 knots, upper end of cruising speed; range has been 11.1 to 12.5 knots while in the Mediterranean. The journey is almost complete. The ship is entering the strait between Cyprus and Turkey. It's possible some sailors might even see smoke billowing over Aleppo. Russian attack helicopters are "swarming" over Homs province.
It's amazing how "high up" the Google list my blogging on the Russian Northern Fleet has reached. Hoo-aah!
It's funny how things work out. Without question, the blog has been one of the most important things in my retirement. The granddaughters, of course, top that list, and cross-country trips from Texas to North Dakota and to California and to Utah/Colorado are also near the top.
With or without the blog, I would have continued the aggressive reading program I began in 2007. In fact, the blog began as a "literature" blog back in 2007 with some notes on the Bakken. In a fit of insanity, I deleted the original blog sometime in 2009 and started over, with a focus on the Bakken.
From my perspective, the blog would have become tedious had I not included posts on other subjects that interested me. Completely unexpected is the direction many readers have taken me with their suggestions.
Most incredibly was one suggestion from a reader that I read Dante's Inferno.
I have started (reading the Inferno). I now "understand" it. I use that word "understand" very loosely and with too many qualifications to list.
For my granddaughters, I would recommend sometime in high school -- maybe in their senior year -- they set aside one weekend and "get to know" Dante and his Comedy.
I would have them read the first three cantos as translated by Hollander. That will take all of 15 minutes.
Then, perhaps, the essay by Harold Bloom in his Western Canon on Dante and the Inferno. That would be a full hour.
Then, I would take a break for dinner.
After dinner, I would read Joseph Gallagher's introduction to A Modern Reader's Guide to Dante's The Divine Comedy. That would take another 30 minutes.
At that point, I would leave it up to them, whether to continue or not. That would be Friday night, leaving the rest of the weekend to continue reading Dante or going surfing off the coast of Huntington Beach, California.
For me, I can say definitively I began to read Dante's Comedy during the first week of November, 2016, and will continue to read parts of it every so often until I can no longer read.
Some Notes From Gallagher
Who was he?
Middle-income background, b. in Florentine, Italy, in 1265, middle Ages.
Died at the age of 57 of malaria in Ravenna, Italy, 1321.
May have started writing the Comedy as early as early as 1301, starting about 36 years of age, but mostly likely, the bulk of it was written during his least ten years of life.
How important is it?
At the end of the day, this is the canon: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare.
Harold Bloom: Dante and Shakespeare do not "belong" in the Western Canon -- "They are the Western Canon."
There are said to be more books written about The Divine Comedy than about any other single work of literature (the Bible is a collection -- not all by the same author). According to the authority on such things, only Shakespeare has had more lists of books compiled about him than Dante.
A terza rima (see below), which Dante invented.
Each line is exactly the same length: eleven (11) syllables in each line; such a line is called a hendecasyllabic, from the Greek hen (one) and deka (ten).
Many lines are easily read as a sonnet line of iambic pentameter (five sets of ba/BOOM beats but with one extra syllable at the end. Hamlet's famous line is hendecasyllabic: "To be or not to be, that is the question."
100 cantos (songs) of various lengths.
Divided into three parts: the Inferno (4,720 lines); the Purgatorio (4,755 lines); and, the Paradiso (4,758 lines).
Total length: 14,233 lines (Homer's Iliad, 15,693 lines; his Odyssey, 12,110 lines; Virgil's Aeneid, 9,890 lines).
Apart from the introductory canto in the Inferno, each major section contains 33 cantos, for the sum of a perfect 100.
The poem rhymes. Unlike the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, the Comedy rhymes. Rhyme, practically unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans, was introduced to the West with the hymns of the early Christian Church>0
Dante's basic unit: terzine (tercet), a 3-line stanza;
- first and third lines rhyme (aba)
- the rhyme of the middle line becomes the rhyme for the first and third lines of the next terzine (bcb)
Documentary advantages of terza rima:
- it is easy to see when a line has been dropped out; and,
- it is hard to insert bogus lines