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Analysis

Purgatorio Writing Style

Formal, Elevated

Purgatorio is formal. There’s very little that’s easy and accessible about Dante’s style. By “formal,” we mean that Dante adheres to a very rigid literary form. In this case, epic conventions include tons of invocations to the muses, epithets, apostrophes, epic similes, divine creatures, and a character list longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica. All that good stuff. The “elevated” part points to the difficultly of the text. Sentences tend to be about fifty lines long and chock full of prepositional phases. This sort of language tends to describe a larger-than-life topic – like the purgation of man’s eternal soul – and to address it in a very serious, occasionally stuffy way.

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