Organization Calls for Removing The Divine Comedy from School Curricula

From The Telegraph (UK):

The [Divine Comedy] should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president…. It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.

“The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment –- his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.

Homosexuals are damned by the work as being “against nature” and condemned to an eternal rain of fire in Hell….

[The group] called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.

I should certainly hope that students recognize that a 700-year-old work of literature is a reflection of its time and of the author’s prejudices; and if the call were simply to “fully explain[]” this, I wouldn’t have much objection, though I’m not sure how much explanation it needs. But the news account suggests that Gherush92’s ambitions are rather beyond this (“at least have its more offensive sections fully explained”), and to jettison one of the most important works in literary history because it reflects a sensibility that fits its time in history strikes me as foolish. One of the things that the study of literature is supposed to teach is precisely that different ages have different attitudes.

Note, though, that Gherush92’s UN role seems to be quite modest, though not nil. Thanks to Jose K. Guerrero for the pointer.

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