Climbing out of Hell, Dante in the Purgatorio reaches an island set in the southern ocean. This is Mount Purgatory, where he encounters the penitents who heroically endure their sufferings and speak of their time on Earth. Strange and fresh at every turn, Dante's narrative evokes the mountain landscape in terms of intense physical sensation, right up to the summit. There, before rising to heaven, he enters the Earthly Paradise, where he is movingly reunited with his lost love, Beatrice. This gloriously vivid portrayal of the search for redemption transformed the traditional conception of Purgatory and affirmed the dignity of human will and compassion.
Kirkpatrick brings a more nuanced sense of the Italian and a more mediated appreciation of the poem's construction than nearly all of his competitors.