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The Divine Comedy (Oxford World's Classics)

The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri, C.H. Sisson, David H. Higgins CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH REVIEW*(* entertainment purposes only) Dante’s Divine Comedy v. The Complete Winnie the PoohAfter his wife went to bed, and the house got dark and quiet, that seemed to be the best time for thinking. Naturally, every moment was precious, and he wanted to spend the time he had left with her as much as possible, but these thoughts -these memories- demanded some reflection. “You go on ahead, Sarah. I’ll just be a little bit.”, he always told her. And she seemed to understand, and would give him a kiss before heading up to sleep. It had been that way most nights since he got the diagnosis. It wasn’t self pity or melancholy, or wallowing in regrets. It was just thinking in peace for a while. It’s where he worked out the final arrangements of how his estate was to be settled. His sons had taken over daily operations of the business years ago, but Christopher still took an active interest. It was here, on one of these late nights, that he got the idea for the expansion, which seemed to be coming along so well now. That had been a particularly inspired evening. Most nights he just sat and thought... about old friends, and family members who had gone on before him. About the war. About his parents. His sister. The accident. Meeting Sarah at the university, and getting married. Starting the business (some very lean years, in the beginning). Raising the kids. To be sure, he had many blessings to count. Even the end was coming to him in kindness, with enough forewarning for him to put his affairs in order and say his proper goodbyes. He had even finally found the time to read Hamlet, after telling himself for decades that he really ought to. It wasn’t half bad, he thought.Tonight, he sat on the old couch, and just stared at the embers smoldering in the fireplace. He was tired, and no thoughts seemed to come, so he closed the firescreen and ascended the stairs alone. The stairs. As a young man, he had taken them two-at-a-time, as he chased the children up to their rooms for a story before bed. Tonight he was winded by the time he got to the landing.Sarah was asleep already. He climbed in next to her and put his arm around her. The pain was much less when he lay flat in bed. Dr. Evans had explained that was because of how the tumor was positioned, but Christopher still liked to think that the pain was less because he was close to Sarah. He gave her a kiss and then closed his eyes and drifted off. ***He couldn’t say how long he had been here… or even where “here” was. Wait a second… it was the old Hundred Acre Wood, the way it had been when he was a boy. And looking at his hand, he suddenly realized that indeed he was that boy again! He knew exactly where he was now, and ran like he hadn’t run in over seventy years… down the hill and around the bend to Rabbit's hole, where he’d helped pull Pooh out…As he rounded the bend, there they were: Pooh, Rabbit, Owl... all his old friends were gathered around a tall, thin, elderly man who sat on a tree stump with a big book in his lap. On seeing him, Pooh and the others jumped up to greet him. There were hugs all around. “You know, I thought about you a lot. Even after I left the Hundred Acre Wood... I told my children all about you.”“We know you did”, Kanga said. “We thought about you too”, Roo chimed in. “I have so many questions… about you all. About this place… my parents, my old friends…”Pooh smiled and held his paw.“Virgil here was about to tell us a story. Sometimes his stories help us understand things.“Christopher approached the old man, who gave him a reassuring smile.“Christopher, we have answers for all of your questions... and your parents, your sister and all your friends will all be here shortly. I know how you must be feeling, but as Pooh suggests, why don’t we hear a story now?”It sounded very nice, so Christopher sat down on the ground next to Pooh, and Virgil opened his great book. He started to speak, but then hesitated. He then reached down and seemed to stick his arm deep into the book, and when he pulled it back out, there appeared to be a soap bubble resting on his palm.“Christopher, your youngest son Richard will take your passing hard. Why don’t you send him this?”Christopher stood up and peered closer at the bubble. On the surface appeared the words: Great Expectations -by Charles DickensHe looked from the bubble to Virgil. “What do I do?”“Just blow.” So he did, and the bubble rose up, up, up into the sky and disappeared.“I don’t understand. Does Richard get a copy of Great Expectations now? And why that particular book?“Virgil chuckled softly.“No, Christopher…Richard won’t get a mysterious package in the mail. In fact, he’s already got a copy of Great Expectations, which he’s been thinking about reading. You’re just giving him a little subconscious nudge in that direction.”Virgil stroked his beard a second, and continued.“Why Great Expectations? I don't know either. The effect of each particular book on each particular reader is very unique. I can tell you Richard will find some comfort in it.”Christopher considered it for a moment. “Thank you, Virgil. Now let’s hear that story.”Virgil opened the book and began. Christopher put his hands behind his head and lay back in the grass. For the first time in over two years, he felt no pain. Looking up at the sky, it was clear, bright and cloudless blue, but he could also see the billions of stars of the Milky Way twinkling at him. He had a notion that Creation was an awfully big place... bigger than he could ever possibly comprehend, but still only just big enough to hold all the love that filled it.____________________________Dante gets the point, but the tournament’s participants are the winners. This review is dedicated to Manny, and my fellow CDMR participants with much gratitude for all the fun I’ve these past few months.Thank you all.