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4 - “Where Your Soul Is Pointed”: Facts and Values in Ulysses’ Quest and the Examination on Love

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2022

Alison Cornish
Affiliation:
New York University
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Summary

Ulysses’ mad pursuit of virtue and knowledge presumed that an exploration of physical facts can yield an understanding of value. In the examination on love in the heaven of the fixed stars, St. John first asks not what love is, but where Dante’s soul is pointed. To love is to have an aim, a point, a target. It is to value something more than other things and, in the hierarchy of all good things, there must be one that is the best of all. It is from the sphere of the constellations, of which Ulysses necessarily lost sight when he ventured beyond the known world into the southern hemisphere, that Adam reveals that the cause of his long exile was a trespassing beyond the sign. Since language, the logos, is what humans use to discern what is good and what is harmful, it enacts the role of the God of Bible who promised to reveal to Moses “every value.

Type
Chapter
Information
Believing in Dante
Truth in Fiction
, pp. 123 - 155
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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