The Nine Circles of Writing Hell

“With apologies to Dante Alighieri…

“We have all probably started ill-fated novels that, shall we say, did not go where we wanted them to go. For one reason or another, either our will or our preparation or the idea failed us, and sure enough, they ended up in novel hell.

“Based on the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, here are the nine circles of writing hell.

“Save your novel from these sins, my fellow writers! Repent before it is too late!” [. . .]    –Nathan Bransford, on his blog, November 23, 2010

Inferno: A Poet’s Novel by Eileen Myles (2010)

Eileen-Myles-Reading-Inferno“I was completely stupefied by Inferno in the best of ways. In fact, I think I must feel kind of like Dante felt after seeing the face of God. My descriptive capacity just fails, gives way completely. But I can tell you that Eileen Myles made me understand something I didn’t before. And really, what more can you ask of a novel, or a poet’s novel, or a poem, or a memoir, or whatever the hell this shimmering document is? Just read it.” — Alison Bechdel

“From its beginning — ‘My English professor’s ass was so beautiful.’ — to its end — ‘You can actually learn to have grace. And that’s heaven.’ — poet, essayist and performer Eileen Myles’ chronicle transmits an energy and vividness that will not soon leave its readers. Her story of a young female writer, discovering both her sexuality and her own creative drive in the meditative and raucous environment that was New York City in its punk and indie heyday, is engrossing, poignant, and funny. This is a voice from the underground that redefines the meaning of the word.” — OR Books

Read an excerpt here, or listen to Myles read an excerpt here.

Shane Castle, “Business Profile: The Inferno” (2010)

Dante-Virgil-hell-tours-business-profile-inferno“Publius Vergilius ‘Virgil’ Maro (Aeneid, Eclogues) started giving guided tours of Hell at the beginning of the 13th century B.C.E. Some of his contemporaries said it was a terrible idea. Others said no, it was basically a good idea, but that he just needed some kind of gimmick, maybe a paddleboat shaped like a duck. […]” — Shane Castle, “Business Profile: The Inferno,” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, 2/19/2010

Daily Dante Blog

“Welcome to Daily Dante, a blogging adventure that follows the pilgrim Dante through his journey to hell and back, as we savor the poet Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy.

Daily-Dante-Lenten-Spiritual-Discipline-BlogDaily Dante is a collaborative blog, written by a motley band of Dantophiles living in the Princeton, NJ area. We began during Lent of 2010, when we adopted blogging as a Lenten discipline: a canto a day (excepting Sundays, which technically do not count as Lent), which conveniently allowed us to finish more or less just before Easter. We have completed Inferno, and Purgatorio, and finished blogging through Paradiso during Lent 2012.” — homepage of Daily Dante: Dante as Lenten Spiritual Discipline

 

How I Met Your Mother S05E22 (2010)

how-i-met-your-mother-s05e22-dante-ulyssesIn Season 5, Episode 22, the main character Ted wants to add a little class and sophistication to his group of friends, so he starts quoting poetry:

Ted: “Guys, come on, I’m just trying to add a little class to these proceedings.  It’s like that line from Dante’s Inferno…”

Marshall: [pbbbt]

Ted: “Consider your origins; you were not born to live like brutes…”

Lily: [pbbbt]

Ted: “…but to follow virtue and knowledge…”

Barney: [pbbbt]

Ted: “…Or, in the original Italian…”

Friends, groaning: “Nooooo…”

Ted: “…Considerate la vostra semenza…”

Friends: [pbbbbbbbbbbt]

Contributed by Christine Khachiev

Bleak Expectations, The Story So Far, BBC Radio 4 (2011)

bleak expectations season 4 ep 2

“As Volume Four opens, Pip Bin must enlist the help of his former nemesis, Mr. Gently Benevolent, to fight a new evil that is spreading terror and cake crumbs through the streets of London. Then follows a journey to the Underworld, a gunfight at the All Right I Suppose Corral, Harry Biscuit the dinosaur and his many wives, and an epic battle between good and evil on the plains of Russia.” [ . . . ]

“The fourth series takes its inspiration from sources farther and wider than ever before. Episode 1, “A Tolerable Life De-Happified,” spoofs Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — with just a hint of the Hannibal Lecter stories as Pip seeks advice from the imprisoned Mr. Benevolent. The next episode, “A Now Spoiled Life Smashed Some More,” enters a Hell not unlike that of Dante’s Inferno, while Episode 3, “A Wretched Life Made Much, Much Sadder”, takes a trip to America to echo the Gunfight at the OK Corral.”   –Richard McGinlay, “Bleak Expectations: The Story so Far,” Sci Fi Online (2011)

Dante on the Moon

dante-crater“Only a handful of humans have ever seen the farside of the Moon. There was a time after the Moon’s formation when the entire surface was covered by an ocean of magma; the upper layer of this magma ocean crystallized to form a global layer of anorthosite. Since that time, impacts and other geological processes have broken and churned the surface, but the Dante Crater area may possess significant amounts of these original rocks.”    —NASA, April 23, 2010

At Midnight with Andrew Kennedy and the Dante Quartet

ian-venables-at-midnight-songs-and-chamber-music“British composer Ian Venables, born in 1955, has been described as a songwriter in the tradition of Hubert Parry, Roger Quilter, Peter Warlock, and Gerald Finzi, and the comparison is apt. They were composers of modest talents, active generations before Venables; Parry, the earliest, died in 1918, and Finzi, the latest, in 1956. Venables’ music has much in common with the conservative English pastoralism that tended to characterize their work, and an informed listener unaware of the provenance of the music recorded here might reasonably place it early in the 20th century. It is skillfully written, and Venables has clearly invested it with deep feeling, so it should appeal to fans of post-Romantic English music.” [. . .]    —AllMusic

Enrico Cerni, “Dante per i manager” (2010)

enrico-cerni-dante-per-i-manager-2010     dante-per-i-manager-inferno

This how-to book, published in 2010, was written as a guide for managers and entrepreneurs to navigating the business world. Through the sections Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, Enrico Cerni creates a book-long metaphor using the famous characters and sites from Dante’s Divine Comedy. 

See Dante for Life for more information.

Historyteachers, “The Divine Comedy” (Blondie, “Rapture”)

historyteachers-the-divine-comedy-blondie-rapture

Click image above to watch video.

Contributed by Lisa Flannagan