“Radio Dante,” from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tirana

“I versi di Dante Alighieri, tratti dalle Rime e dalla Vita Nuova, compongono i ventuno episodi del progetto Radio Dante, un podcast sperimentale ideato da Francesca Fini su commissione dell’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tirana e RadioMi, per celebrare i settecento anni dalla morte del poeta fiorentino. [. . .] Le voci degli attori si muovono in un paesaggio sonoro ricchissimo di suggestioni e per certi versi spiazzante, sceneggiato da Francesca Fini e sviluppato nello spazio tridimensionale dal sound-designer Boris Riccardo D’Agostino. Un paesaggio sonoro avvolgente, che sembra raccontare un road-movie ambientato nella contemporaneità, trascinando l’universo dantesco nel nostro presente.”   –Radio Dante: “Il Progetto e le Persone

Listen to the Radio Dante podcast streaming on Radiomi from February 15, 2021. You can also listen to the podcast episodes here.

Tom Stoppard’s Bookshelf

“Stoppard is a maniacal reader who collects first editions of writers he admires. Asked on the BBC radio show ‘Desert Island Discs’ in 1984 to choose the one book he’d bring to a desert island, he replied: Dante’s Inferno in a dual Italian/English version, so he could learn a language while reading a favorite. His idea of a good death, he’s said, would be to have a bookshelf fall on him, killing him instantly, while reading.”   –Dwight Garner, “‘Tom Stoppard’ Tells of an Enormous Life Spent in Constant Motion,” New York Times review of Hermione Lee, Tom Stoppard: A Life (February 15, 2021)

Contributed by Guy Raffa (University of Texas, Austin)

Kat Mustatea, Voidopolis (2020)

@kmustatea on Instagram (January 30, 2021)

Voidopolis is a digital performance about loss and memory that is currently unfolding over 45 posts on my Instagram feed (@kmustatea). Started July 1, 2020, it is a loose retelling of Dante’s Inferno, informed by the grim experience of wandering through NYC during a pandemic. Instead of the poet Virgil, my guide is a caustic hobo named Nikita.”   –Kat Mustatea

Featuring a Dantesque cast of characters ranging from the Virgilian Nikita to a mohawked Minos, a gruff ferryman named Kim and a withdrawn George Perec, Mustatea’s Voidopolis weaves through the pandemic-deserted streets of Manhattan, a posthuman landscape of absence and loss, bearing witness to its vanishings. Voidopolis won the 2020 Arts & Letters “Unclassifiable” Prize for Literature, and received a Literature grant from the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation.

To read more about both the process of the piece and its influences, including Dante, see the interview with Mustatea featured in Dovetail Magazine (2020).

 

Carolyn Wolfenzon, Nuevos fantasmas recorren México (2020)

“In eight chapters, Wolfenzon focuses on different ghosts that haunt the pages of each of the novels. In her essay about Sada’s Porque parece mentira la verdad nunca se sabe (Because it Seems Like a Lie, The Truth is Never Known), for example, his ‘ghost is someone like you and me who works in a maquiladora,’ Wolfenzon said, referring to the factories prevalent along the US–Mexico border.

“‘The characters are only doing one thing in the entire novel,’ she continued. ‘They are like the dead but they are alive, in this setting, this space that doesn’t belong to anybody. It is the border between Mexico and the US, and it has the atmosphere of a new kind of hell.’

“Indeed, Wolfenzon was struck by how often the authors she examined describe new kinds of horrifying hells. She saw correlations with the Inferno, and in 2016, audited Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Arielle Saiber’s class on Dante.

“‘I felt it was important to carefully revisit the Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy),’ Wolfenzon said. ‘Arielle’s class was very inspirational to me, even though it was in Italian!'”   –Rebecca Goldfine, “Carolyn Wolfenzon’s New Book Illuminates a Ghoulish Theme in Modern Mexican Literature,” Bowdoin News, December 14, 2020

Pizzeria Drago Verde (Firenze)

Pizzeria-Drago-Verde-Purgatorio-XXXI

Photo taken at Pizzeria Drago Verde, Florence, Italy (January 17, 2019).

Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (2012)

“Ma adesso, a Ischia, aveva incontrato Lila e avevo capito che lei era stata fin dall’infanzia—e sarebbe stata sempre in futuro—il suo vero unico amore. Eh sì, era andata di sicuro a questo modo. E come rimproverarlo? Dov’era la colpa? C’era, nella loro storia, qualcosa d’intenso, di sublime, affinità elettive. Evocai versi e romanzi come tranquillanti. Forse, pensai, aver studiato mi serve solo a questo: a calmarmi. Lei gli aveva acceso la fiamma in petto, lui per anni l’aveva custodita senza accorgersene: ora che quella fiamma era divampata. Cos’altro poteva fare se non amarla. Anche se lei non l’amava. Anche se era sposata e quindi inaccessibile, vietata: un matrimonio dura per sempre, oltre la morte. A meno che non lo si infranga condannandosi alla bufera infernale fino giorno del Giudizio.”   –Elena Ferrante, Storia del nuovo cognome (p. 237)

A.J. Hackwith, The Library of the Unwritten (2019)

A Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith tells the story of a librarian and her assistant from the ‘Unfinished Book’ wing of the library of Hell tracking down escaped characters from the books, attempting to meet their authors or change their stories. Towards the beginning of the story, as they are about to depart the library of hell for Earth so they can track down an escaped character, a figure appears and quotes most of the inscription which is written on the gate of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.”   –Contributor Robert Alex Lee

Here is the synopsis of the 2019 novel, from Penguin Random House: “In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

“Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

“But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.”   —Penguin Random House

Contributed by Robert Alex Lee (Florida State University ’21)

Maurizio Lastrico, “Nel mezzo del casin di nostra vita” (2019)

“Nel suo nuovo spettacolo ‘Nel mezzo del casin di nostra vita,’ Maurizio Lastrico recita i suoi celebri endecasillabi ‘danteschi,’ che mescolano il tono alto e quello basso, che raccontano con ironia di incidenti quotidiani, di una sfortuna che incombe, di un caos che gode nel distruggere i rari momenti di tranquillità della vita. Propone inoltre le sue storie condensate, in cui la sintesi e l’omissione generano un gioco comico di grande impatto.”   —Teatro.it

The show first ran in 2019 and has run continuously through 2020 and the first half of 2021. See teatro.it for more information.

…mi ritrovai in una strana pandemia… (2020)

In the last days of 2020, the image below was circulating on various social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook):

Contributed by Irene Zanini-Cordi (Florida State University)

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

“In [Luca Guadagnino’s] movie Call Me By Your Name (2017), during the scene where Elio’s parents are sunbathing in Italy, Elio’s father is reading a book with a marking on the spine that says La Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri.”   –Contributor Alex Lee

Contributed by Robert Alex Lee (Florida State University ’21)