Andy Catlett Goes to Hell: Literary Allusion in Wendell Berry's Remembering

Remembering, a short novel by Wendell Berry is rich with language and themes drawn from Dante and Milton. The second in a series of novels about the Coulter and Catlett families, Remembering follows Andy Catlett as he wanders through the dark streets of a strange city.

Andy, who lost his hand in a farming accident, feels cut off from his family and home. Dante’s famous midlife crisis begins in a darkened wood, but Andy’s begins in a stark hotel room after yet another dull and futile conference. The streets are full of hellish visions and the odd heavenly message, and Andy, like Dante, must find his way back to the light.

Exploring the connections between Berry’s novel and these canonical works adds new layers to Andy’s story. After exploring these parallels, I will also present my experiences teaching Remembering and The Comedy side-by-side in a Dante class. How do the works of Dante and Milton illuminate Remembering, and how can Remembering enrich a study of Dante and Milton?