The 7th Heaven

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Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2007, p. A2 (retrieved on January 15, 2008)

Contributed by Ruth Caldwell

“Paradise Lost: Why Doesn’t Anyone Read Dante’s Paradise”

robert-p-baird-paradise-lost-why-doesnt-anyone-read-dantes-paradise“Dante’s Paradiso is the least read and least admired part of his Divine Comedy. The Inferno‘s nine circles of extravagant tortures have long captured the popular imagination, while Purgatorio is often the connoisseur’s choice. But as Robert Hollander writes in his new edition of the Paradiso, ‘One finds few who will claim (or admit) that it is their favorite cantica.’ (A cantica, or canticle, is one of the three titled parts of the poem.) The time is ripe to reconsider Paradiso‘s neglect, however, since three major new translations of the poem we know as the Divine Comedy are coming to completion. (Dante simply called it his Comedy; in what was perhaps the founding instance of publishing hype, divine was added by a Venetian printer in 1555.) Hollander’s edition, produced with his wife, Jean, was published this summer, and two more are due out next year: one by Robin Kirkpatrick and the other—the one I’m holding out for—by Robert M. Durling and Ronald L. Martinez.” [. . .]    –Robert P. Baird, Slate, December 24, 2007

“The Divine Reality Comedy” by the Bread & Puppet Theater

the-divine-reality-comedy-by-the-bread-puppet-theater“A theatergoer’s heart could be forgiven for sinking upon learning that the production she was scheduled to see at Theater for the New City was a riff on Dante called ‘The Divine Reality Comedy’ and featured a ‘Born to Buy’ critique set in ‘Paradise.’ But that heart lifted upon hearing that Peter Schumann’s ragtag collective, the Bread and Puppet Theater, was the company undertaking said riff.” [. . .]    –Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, December 1, 2007

“Marching Owl Band Drops the D-Bomb on Todd Graham”

marching-owl-band-drops-the-d-bomb-on-todd-graham“TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa has filed a formal complaint with Conference USA over the Rice marching band’s performance of ‘Todd Graham’s Inferno’ during halftime of Saturday’s football game in Houston. Graham left Rice for Tulsa after just one season… The band’s show depicted a search for the former Owls coach through different circles of Hell, based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.” [. . .]    –Matt Hinton, Sunday Morning QB, November 27, 2007

Contributed by George Trone

“Going to Hell with Benigni”

going-to-hell-with-benigni“Actor brings Dante to TV screens but attacks Italian politicians before presenting Divine Comedy.
MILAN — Unlike Adriano Celentano, Roberto Benigni did not let Romano Prodi off the hook. Yesterday evening, the Tuscan comic spared no one, although most of his barbs, including the funniest ones, were directed at Silvio Berlusconi and the Centre-right. But there were also jibes at [foreign minister — Trans.] Massimo D’Alema and [justice minister — Trans.] Clemente Mastella.”    –Maria Volpe, Corriere della sera, November 30, 2007

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

“The Divine Therapy”

divine-therapy-new-york-times“‘It’s an inferno in here,’ yelled a middle-aged woman as she plunged into a foul-smelling hot spring in central Italy. She wasn’t the first to compare these scorching sulfur baths to Hell. In Canto XIV of Inferno, Dante wanders past a pool oozing with boiling red water and is reminded of these thermal spas about an hour north of Rome ‘whose waters are shared with prostitutes.’ . . .
That may explain why spas like Bulicame seem to hold more appeal for the locals. In addition to being free, its commercial-free atmosphere and ancient Roman ruins infuse the bath with history. Besides, Dante’s journey through Inferno and Bulicame eventually led him to Paradiso.” []    –David Farley, The New York Times, August 26, 2007

Dante Bar, Via del Corso, Rome

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Photo contributed by Maxime Billick (Bowdoin, ’10)

“Dante’s Self-Help Book”

william-blake-inferno-26-wall-street-journal.jpg“There are monuments to Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) everywhere in Italy, where three years of study in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ are required for young people to learn how to lead the best possible life. One cannot imagine Italy’s culture without Dante’s 14th-century work — any more than one could imagine Britain’s without Shakespeare or America’s without the Declaration of Independence.
Unlike most other world classics, The Divine Comedy is a self-help book. People read Shakespeare with no expectation that they will become Shakespeare. But many read Dante expecting to mimic his results and transform themselves from seekers, lost in their own questions, into poets, certain and transcendent.” [. . .]    –Harriet Rubin, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2007

Contributed by Jake Bourdeau

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

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“…Inside the building that tranquillity gives way to a comic-book version of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with strict divisions between various worlds. Visitors enter via an internal bridge that crosses over an underground atrium. From here, a vast hall conceived on the scale of a piazza leads to a cafeteria overlooking the calm surface of a reflecting pool. On one side of the hall looms the ziggurat form of the museum; on the other, a wall of glass-enclosed offices. Here the spectral glow of the interior of the cast-glass skin evokes the stained-glass windows of a medieval cathedral.”    –Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times, May 26, 2007

Contributed by Darren Fishell (Bowdoin, ’09)

“Il Terzo Cerchio” Restaurant, Budapest, Hungary

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Il Terzo Cerchio, Budapest, Hungary