Writing for The Epoch Times in New York, James has composed four articles on why Dante is so important in the modern world.
The first article looks at how Dante helps us think, really think – not just re-package stale memes and virtue-signal utopian political slogans. Dante takes us on a journey that forces us to consider what reality really is.
From there, the second article discusses the big issue of our time (although it is often obscured by more immediate concerns, or by seeming to be a merely academic issue): namely, the problem of free will versus determinism. We see how Dante insists on free will and we see its imaginative realisation in the Divine Comedy, not just some dry-as-dust lecture on the topic. Over and above this, in Dante, we see how freedom of the will helps us move away from addictions, compulsions and existential vacuums to the possibilities of real life and the road to beauty.
In the third article, James explores the ways in which Purgatory differs from Hell.
The final article deals with Paradise, discussing how Dante describes a kind of assimilation of the “shadow self” or negative aspect of our personality in order to attain metanoia or “repentance”. Paradise is where we finally attain our full potential and become who we truly are. It seems as if Dante anticipated the work of Carl Jung by some 600 or so years! Given the depth and complexity of Dante’s work, it should come as no surprise how it came to inspire and motivate James to write the English Cantos.