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Mar 20, 2019 09:05

There are also other aspects that characterize his sin as non-sexual in nature; the one on which many critics agree is the open disregard for the Catholic theological order. Brunetto`s statement on Fortune clearly implies it. In the dialogue between the two, Brunetto predicts to his disciple a great fame saying that his future literary glory is written in the stars. Dante gently rejectes these words and the implicit power granted to Fortune by his maestro`s speech. Dante prefers to identify fortune to a chaotic sequence of good and bad events that happen to every man. Surely, Dante is greatly interested in differentiating himself from his old maestro on this matter. Even though his treatment of Brunetto is respectful and remissive, he feels necessary to remark his beliefs on the subject and to replace Brunetto`s idea of fortune with that of divine grace.
Dante uses a light touch in handling Brunetto literary authority; however, he underlines a different teleological perspective by remarking his definition of fortune and also provides the reader with a renewed hierarchical order in terms of writing authorities. Among the three, Virgil comes first, Dante after him, and Brunetto occupies the last position Space directions are the main clues indicating the hierarchical order among them: Virgil is the guide of the voyage and proceeds as first. Dante has to asks him the permission to stop for greeting Brunetto. Instead, the old teacher follows Dante as bound by his inferior condition of sinner.
Blake Leland believes that Dedalus make an association between Eglinton and Brunetto at the beginning of this episode. He belives so, in consideration of Stephen`s recall of a word read in Latini`s Tesoretto. He finds the sequence of Stephen`s thoughts revelatory of such parallelism. Stephen is supposed to link Eglinton to Brunetto for they both have miscreant eyes; the word that he takes from Brunetto is ‘basilisk’. Yet, the exact quote from Italian only mentions the poisoning propriety of the snake, not its name. Leland explains it in this way: “We can assume … [that]the particular notice given to Brunetto`s eyes may help to determine the association. We also notice that throughout this episode Stephen feels surrounded by men whose sexuality is somehow ‘wrong’ –timid celibates at best. Stephen therefore sees Eglinton as similar to Brunetto, and thus is forged the associative chain Eglinton-eyes-baneful-perverse-Brunetto”.
The scholar goes on with his interpretation by analyzing the paternal power of literary authorities and including Eglinton and the other librarians among such authorities. Another scholar, Michels, interpreters the literary conversation at the National Library as a revenge act carried out by Stephen Dedalus who identifies with Hamlet. Michels believes that Claudio, the usurper, is the sum of the librarians and is also represented by Mr. Daisy in chapter two. I am not convinced by these proposal. The literary authority Stephen fears the most is clearly that one of his friend-enemy Buck Mulligan as shown by the intense rivalry that he has with him. The submissive and hypocritical tone that he uses in dealing with the librarians recalls that one used by Dante-poet in canto XVI of Inferno when meeting with some famous sodomites. The men he meets are in number of four; they were noblemen in life and shared the same sin for which they are sent to Hell. The almost invincible impulse of Dante is to joining them in their pain. He feels attracted by their fame and by the high social position to which they once belonged. I think there are no doubts about the social importance of these man as a trigger for Dante instinctual devotion. Says the poet: “I of your city am; and evermore / Your labours and your honourable names / I with affection have retraced and heard.” The devotion of Dante-pilgrim is pure and spontaneous; the hypocrisy is all in Dante-poet, who condemns them to eternal pain in Hell. I believe that something similar happens to Stephen in relation to the librarians . His struggle is for a social acknowledgment; he does not fear their literary power. He has overcame their esoteric Platonism thanks to the 'schoolboy' Aristotle. The most fructuous recognition he hopes to receive by them is the ‘palm of beauty’; which is an ironic reference to the Greek gods beauty competition, in its essence, social and mundane. The discussion on literature revolves more around social power than literary authority. At the end of the conversation he is fully aware of it: he recalls the discussion just held as something that has added anything new to his knowledge on the matter. His intention was to sell them the discussion in form of an interview to be published in their newspaper; he even asks money for it, which I interpreter more as a challenge to their social power than an attempt to negotiate his role among their literary authority. Stephen never takes their opinions seriously, still he is very interested in convincing them of his theory on Shakespeare.
The reason for their lack of literary power are many; the principle is that there is no a strong connection between the lives they lead and their opinion on literature.
Therefore, Buck Mulligan is more convincing than Eglinton in the role of 'ser Brunetto'. First, he is the link among the librarians and Stephen: he is welcomed among them, and he has introduced Stephen to them.
Similarly, Brunetto is the connection between Dante and the other sodomites. He is first and most important sodomite that Dante encounters in his pilgrimage and functions as an example for the others; after meeting Brunetto, Virgil does not need to explain to Dante the nature of the sin anymore.
Many signs show there is a connection between Buck and Brunetto starting from their names. The former one`s has a Greek sound, the latter`s reminding the Roman language. Also both of them favored another but their own language; in the first chapter, Buck would like to Hellenize Ireland while Brunetto was frowned upon by his contemporaries for his choice of writing his first and most notorious work in French, which he considered to be the best language for writing purpose.
Furthermore, there is an evident parallelism between the couples Dante/Brunetto Stephen/Buck. Dante and his first maestro chooses a “selva” (the allegorical dark forest) as the commencement for their literary endeavors. Both of their stories are autobiographical, didactic and in verse. Dante is strongly inspired by Brunetto`s usage of allegories and by his idea of a voyage of knowledge. Though, the similarities end here; Dante pilgrimage reflects a typical Christian path to salvation while Brunetto, at the end of his journey, decides to renounce to a perfectly Christian life in favor of a mundane one. In like manner, Stephen and Buck seem to have similar opinion in matter of faith; however, Stephen`s skepticism never dismisses metaphysics analysis nor depart completely from the idea of God. The young may be skeptical towards Christian eschatology, still he poses to himself the question of God`s essence. Buck, like Brunetto, appears to be almost deaf when it comes to a subject that he never loses a chance to mock. Ser Brunetto overlooks his disciple different definition of Fortune. Therefore, he fails to understand one of the reason for his eteranal punishment. He limits himself to remind Dante about his 'little treasure' by which he hopes to attain eternal fame. Similarly, Buck refutes any disquisition involving religion and faith. His gaudy remarks about it are proverbial .
The similarity between Buck and Brunetto are many more; both of them have a patronizing attitude towards their friends: Buck makes up any sort of names for Stephen, he predicts him success and even offers his literary help. In the first chapter, Buck acknowledges Stephen literary value and hopes to work with him in the near future.
Almost the same patterns are seen in the encounter between Dante and his maestro: Brunetto calls him ‘son’ twice in few verses, then he predicts him a brilliant future –if only he follows his own star- finally he says that he would help in his literary endeavor if he was still alive. Dante`s touch is delicate here; but, there are certain aspects of Brunetto behavior that do not fit his inferior condition of sinner. He is almost deaf to the punishment he is serving, does not recognize the connection between literature and reality; such a dismiss could be seen as almost blasphemous. He touches Dante`s arms, he patronizes him by maintaining his role of master, even in the miserable condition in whic he lives. But, as Buck Mulligan, he survives to posterity only thanks to the eternal words of his friend.