Dante meets the two sisters in Purgatory, and Leah describes, with Dantesque pithiness, the difference between them.

For other quotations concerning rather more similar sisters, see Jane Eyre, or a few examples of sister-shared insanity in Mervyn Peake’s sprawling work of imagination, Gormenghast: one regarding thinking and one regarding roofs.


‘Whoever wants to ask my name should know

It’s Leah, and I pluck, with hands so fair,

The making of a garland as I go.

I like the look, but love the open air.

My sister Rachel, on the other hand,

Sits always at her glass, as keen to see

Her own bright eyes as I am for the land

Beneath my feet. But there you are, that’s me:

I like to do, she likes to understand.’


Source: Dante, The Divine Comedy (Purgatory, Canto 27), trans. Clive James (New York: Liveright Publishing, 2013), p. 313

Photo credit: langll at pixabay.com


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