Pudd'nhead Wilson

discuss twain's references to the poet Dante Alighieri

discuss Twain's references to the poet Dante Alighieri

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On the surface it seems Twain is attempting to breathe an air of legitimacy into his work. Though admitting his own shortcomings in the field of law, he tries to bolster the book's authority by assuring the reader that it has been pored over by a legal expert. Further, the author tries to puff up his own consequence by linking himself to Dante Alighieri - one of history's greatest poets - and by embracing the ancient Florentine senators as his own ancestors.

However, closer examination reveals that what appears to be an attempt at legitimacy is in fact absurd satire. Twain's so-called legal expert, who ensures the accuracy of the novel's legal passages, has not practiced law in decades. He has to brush up on the law before he can even revise the book. Similarly, it is somewhat ridiculous to suggest that the author could join the ranks of a writer the likes of Dante by simply sitting upon the same rock. And for all we know, the Florentine senators that Twain so eagerly embraces, may be the same public officials that exiled the illustrious poet in the early Fourteenth Century.