Dante’s Divine Comedy: An individuation journey through realms of shadow to the mystery of transformation
West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy
What we witness in the The Divine Comedy is a visionary account of a journey through the land of the dead that displays clear stages of psychological and spiritual development. This journey was experienced and turned into a magnificent work of art by Dante in the second half of his life.
Like Jung crafting his Red Book for more than a decade, Dante meticulously composed The Divine Comedy over a similar period of time, from 1308 until 1321 as scholars have estimated, although the experience he writes about took place, he says, in only a few days, while he was in Rome during Holy Week in 1300. Dante tells the story as a recollection, as memory that he is now recounting in the elevated form of literary art.
As a Jungian psychoanalyst, I am looking at the Commedia not as art or literature but as a depiction of psychological transformation achieved through what Jung called active imagination.
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