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By Alberto Manguel

Curiosity has been obvious during the a long time because the impulse that drives our wisdom ahead and the temptation that leads us towards harmful and forbidden waters. The query “Why?” has seemed less than a multiplicity of guises and in significantly diversified contexts through the chapters of human background. Why does evil exist? what's good looks? How does language tell us? What defines our identification? what's our accountability to the area? In Alberto Manguel’s so much own ebook to this point, the writer tracks his personal lifetime of interest during the examining that has mapped his way.

Manguel chooses as his publications a range of writers who sparked his mind's eye. He dedicates every one bankruptcy to a unmarried philosopher, scientist, artist, or different determine who verified in a clean approach the right way to ask “Why?” best us via an entire gallery of inquisitives, between them Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Lewis Carroll, Rachel Carson, Socrates, and, most significantly, Dante, Manguel affirms how deeply attached our interest is to the readings that the majority astonish us, and the way necessary to the hovering of our personal imaginations.

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Quoting Pythagoras in his Convivio, Dante defined a person who pursues this wholesome curiosity precisely as a “lover of knowledge . . ”12 Though scholars such as Bonaventure, Siger de Brabant, and Boethius deeply influenced Dante’s thought, Thomas Aquinas, above all, was Dante’s maître à penser: as Dante’s Commedia is to his curious readers, Aquinas’s writings were to Dante. When Dante, guided by Beatrice, reaches the Heaven of the Sun, where the prudent are rewarded, a crown of twelve blessed souls circle around him three times to the sound of a celestial music, until one of them detaches itself from the dance and speaks to him.

In the late thirteenth century, Tuscany was split into two political factions: the Guelphs, loyal to the pope, and the Ghibellines, loyal to the imperial cause. In 1260, the Ghibellines defeated the Guelphs at the Battle of Montaperti; a few years later, the Guelphs began to regain their lost power, eventually expelling the Ghibellines from Florence. By 1270 the city was entirely Guelph and would remain so throughout Dante’s lifetime. Shortly after Dante’s birth in 1265, the Guelphs of Florence divided into the Blacks and the Whites, this time along family rather than political lines.

Someone, Boccaccio says, searching for a document among the papers in Dante’s house, found the cantos without knowing they were by Dante, read them with admiration, and took them for inspection to a Florentine poet “of some renown,” who guessed that they were Dante’s work and contrived to send them on to him. Always according to Boccaccio, Dante was at the time at the estate of Moroello Malaspina in Lunigiana; Malaspina received the cantos, read them, and begged Dante not to abandon a work so magnificently begun.

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