From the Writer

Strangely enough, I wanted to write this paper not to express a bold new idea, but because I wanted to take a middle-of-the-road approach. All of the writers whom I had studied seemed to take rather extreme stances on the subject of contrapasso, whereas I saw an Occam’s-razor-style approach as much more suitable. This mindset, however, also ended up complicating the process. Because my thesis was not so radical that my whole paper needed to constantly argue the point, I needed to find another way to make my conclusion seem viable.

In the end, I decided to follow this format: in the first paragraph, I would introduce two extreme interpretations of contrapasso in addition to my own. Then, through the course of the essay, I would explain why both of these extreme interpretations were inherently flawed. Finally, I would re-introduce my own point as the logical middle ground. Despite being a somewhat simple plan, my essay went through an unexpected number of major revisions, and the number of paragraphs that were written and struck off were almost as many as those that made it through to the final version.

However, even with all of these revisions, I would still be willing to go back and add a final pass of polish. Nearly eight months after writing it, some phrases now seem forced or over-used. This is especially clear to me in my concluding paragraph, which was written from scratch several times. The one lesson that I did take away from this essay is how helpful the space of even a few weeks is when revising old writing. I had started this paper somewhat early, and the ability to put it off for a week and come back with fresh eyes was essential to getting it to the level that it is now.

JOSEPH KAMEEN was born in Pittsburgh and is currently attending the BU College of Fine Arts as a painting major. He is a member of the class of 2013 and is also an amateur musician, writer, carpenter, electrician, and all-around tinkerer. This essay was written for Scott Challener’s course, WR 100: Dante and the Modern Imagination.

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