illustration of a human covered in a starry sky walking from the sky and plains toward a fiery opening to hell

The Divine Comedy

by Dante Alighieri
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Who has criticized Dante?

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Although Dante's Comedy is now regarded as a timeless masterpiece, Neo-Classical critics of the eighteenth century largely dismissed it as a typical product of the culture of the Middle Ages. Because Neo-Classicism valued the symmetry and the homogeneous style of the classics, Dante's stylistic mixture was the main target for Neo-Classical critics. They attributed to the poem the faults that they identified with the historical era of the Middle Ages. To them, the Comedy was primitive and barbarous. Yet, the emergence of Romantic criticism in the nineteenth century led to a rediscovery of the Middle Ages and the adjectives used negatively by the Neo-Classics suddenly became positive. In turn, this made Dante, a truly representative writer of the Middle Ages, a key cultural reference for Romantic critics.

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