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Leopold Bloom in Purgatory

Dante and Joyce

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
6:30 pm


In collaboration with NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House and Medieval and Renaissance Center.

A lecture by
Patrizia Grimaldi-Pizzorno, Università di Siena

In Ulysses 13, Joyce encrypts key allusions to Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio. To understand the metapoetic significance of the female protagonist Gerty MacDowell and the reason why she is lame, one must in fact turn to Canto XXVIII where Dante enters the divine forest of Earthly Paradise at the summit of the mountain island of Purgatorio and arrives at the stream of Lethe where he sees a mysterious beautiful girl dancing and gathering flowers on the other side of the river.

Prof. Grimaldi-Pizzorno will argue that Gerty is a figura of Matelda who is in turn a figura of Elegia, the limping girl the Latin poet Ovid encounters at the beginning of Book Three of Amores. A second set of allusions refer to Canto VIII whose relevance centers on the figure of Nino Visconti, whose story reflects Bloom’s sexual vulnerability and underscores his domestic tensions. Remarkably, Joyce in this purgatorial chapter connects Nino of Purgatorio VIII with Shakepeare’s Hamlet, whose locus is also purgatory (where Hamlet’s father is placed for the purging of his sins). Sexual vulnerability, betrayal and death are Dante, Shakespeare and Joyce’ common subjects, and because of a disloyal wife – misogyny looms large in both.


Organized by Prof. Alison Cornish, “Dante and…” is a series of lectures that focus on Dante’s relevance in today’s world. These lectures feature scholars and experts from many different fields of interest, invited to present their unique readings of the poet’s works.

There are currently no on view at Casa Italiana