Amy Bloom, “La Divina Commedia” (2006)

amy-bloom-la-divina-commedia-2006This anthology of some 20 short pieces focuses on each of the contributors’ most memorable meals. In La Divina Commedia Amy Bloom recounts her quest for the ultimate lasagna, recoiling in horror from the oxymoronic “dieter’s lasagna.” She writes: “I am looking for the perfect lasagna, making my way through cookbooks at midnight, ready for heartbreak but hopeful, like Dante seeking Beatrice.” [. . .]    —Amy Bloom

Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An, Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante (2006)

“This extraordinary painting depicting 103 figures from world history in striking detail has become the latest internet hit.

“Message boards have erupted with contests to identify all those featured, who range from instantly recognisable figures like Gandhi to some more obscure figures such as Liu Xiang, the Chinese hurdler who limped out of the Beijing Olympics in the summer.

“An element of mystery also surrounds that origins of the picture, which appears to have drawn inspiration from Raphael’s Renaissance fresco The School of Athens. [. . .]

“Another clue comes from the three undistinguished men in contemporary dress who survey the scene from behind a wall at the top right of the picture.

“Internet detectives have identified these three as little-known Chinese/Taiwanese artists named as Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An.

“They created the oil painting – titled Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante – in 2006, although it has only become a viral internet hit in the past few weeks.

“Alastair Sooke, art writer at The Daily Telegraph, said that the work reflected a trend of contemporary Chinese artists adopting Western styles and subjects.

“‘But the Dante reference makes us wonder whether we are looking at some nether-circle deep inside the Inferno: this is a vision of Celebrity Hell,’ he added.”    —Matthew Moore, London Daily Telegraph, 16 March 2009

dai-dudu-li-tiezi-and-zhang-an-discussing-the-divine-comedy-with-dante-2006-crop Click here to view a high-resolution, annotated version of the painting. Dante may be seen with his Commedia in the upper right hand corner of the painting, standing among the three artists.

“Dr. Who: The Impossible Planet & The Satan Pit” (2006)

dr-who-the-impossible-planet-the-satan-pit-2006Second series of Doctor Who, Episodes 8 and 9: The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit

Tangerine Dream, Divina Commedia Albums (2002, 2004, 2006)


See Discogs for information on albums Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Contributed by Joe Henderson (Bowdoin, ’10)

Christian Anthony, “And Everything In Between” (2006)


“In his video short, Christian Anthony has appropriated film and television clips creating a collage of images and scenes describing the afterlife. These fragments, taken from the last several decades, emphasize the tension between the media-driven, pop culture representations of heaven, hell and purgatory and people’s personal perceptions of these concepts. Anthony’s portrait of the collective afterlife is at times comic, violent and wicked as it tosses up stereotypes, self-righteousness and fear.”    —San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Watch the video here.

Jodi Picoult, “The Tenth Circle” (2006)

jodi-picoult-the-tenth-circle-a-novel.jpg“Bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle is a metaphorical journey through Dante’s Inferno, told through the eyes of a small Maine family whose hidden demons haunt every aspect of their seemingly peaceful existence.” [. . .]    –Gisele Tuoeg, Amazon

See also: the film “The Tenth Circle” (2008)

Contributed by Charlie Russell-Schlesinger (Bowdoin, ’08)

Roberto Benigni’s “Tutto Dante”

See Roberto Benigni’s website Tutto Dante for more information and photos.

Contributed by Dorothea Herreiner

John Curran, “The Painted Veil” (2006)

john-curran-the-painted-veilThe 2006 movie, The Painted Veil, based on a novel by Somerset Maugham ultimately derives from the author’s fascination with Pia, a character in Dante’s Purgatorio. This discussion of the movie quotes from Maugham’s preface to the novel:

“The idea for the novel began when Maugham was studying Italian under the tuition of the daughter of his landlady in Tuscany before World War I (he had by then decided to abandon a career in medicine for the life of a writer). While working through Dante’s Purgatorio, he came upon this line, spoken by the adulterous wife Pia: Siena mi fe’; disfecemi Maremma. (Siena made me, Maremma unmade me.) Ersilia (for so the tutor was named) explained that Pia was a noblewoman of Siena whose husband, suspecting her of adultery and afraid on account of her family to put her death, took her down to his castle in the Maremma valley, the noxious vapors of which he was confident would kill her off. But she took so long to die that he grew impatient and had her tossed out a window. As Maugham explains in his preface to the novel: ‘I do not know where Ersilia learnt all this. The note in my own Dante was less circumstantial, but the story for some reason caught my imagination. I turned it over in my mind and for many years from time to time would brood over it for two or three days. I used to repeat to myself the line: Siena mi fe’; disfecemi Maremma. But it was one among many subjects that occupied my fancy and for long periods, I forgot it. Of course I saw it as a modern story, but I could not think of a setting in the world of today in which such events might plausibly happen. It was not till I made a long journey in China that I found this.'”    –Edward T. Oakes, First Things, January 10, 2007

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Sandow Birk’s Illustrations of the “Divine Comedy”


“A five year project which involved adapting the text of the entire “Divine Comedy” into contemporary slang and setting the action in contemporary urban America. The project resulted in three, limited edition books, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Each book contained more than 60 original lithographs and was published by Trillium Press in San Francisco.”    —Sandow Birk

See also: Sandow Birk’s film “Dante’s Inferno” (2007)

Rodney Atkins, “If You’re Going Through Hell” (2006)


See Rodney Atkins’ Website.

Contributed by Alex Brasili (Bowdoin, ’10)