“I’m not Dante, and you’re not Vergilius” – Resident Evil: Revelations

“You said yourself, ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’ But I’m not Dante, and you’re not Vergilius.”

Learn more about Capcom’s 2012 video game Resident Evil: Revelations here.

Sherman Irby’s Inferno

“Hell’s never sounded as suave and soulful as it does on Sherman Irby’s Inferno by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) with Wynton Marsalis. Irby, the lead alto saxophonist for the JLCO, cleverly interprets Dante Alighieri’s epic poem from The Divine Comedy to create a sweeping work that takes listeners on a lyrically swinging tour of the underworld’s nine circles.

“The epic composition, recorded live in 2012, lets the JLCO’s all-star improvisers give life to the colorful denizens of hell and casts the late, legendary baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley as the voice of Dante. Irby’s Inferno both stands alone as an irresistible musical narrative and sheds new light on Dante’s classic; this unique exploration of the epic poem captures its timeless quality and ingeniously places it in conversation with the jazz canon.”   —wyntonmarsalis.org

You can download the album or access it through various streaming services here.

Recorded May 19, 2012.

Released January 17, 2020.

Sherman Irby discussed his work on Inferno, his circuitous path to Dante (starting with a Divine Comedy anime!), and his plans to set all three canticles to music at the webinar “African American Interpretations of Dante’s Divine Comedy” (Oct 4, 2020).

See our previous posts on Irby’s Inferno here and here.

Final line of C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed

“In the last chapter of A Grief Observed, Lewis admits that grief is, ‘like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.’ If you’ve grieved over someone’s death, you know the image Lewis is casting. Happiness almost feels a little haunted, but time evaporates the wetness from some of the tears, albeit gradual, ‘like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight,’ says Lewis.

[. . .]

The end is akin to the beginning of A Grief Observed, if only in the questions it doesn’t answer and the doubts that are still raised as a result of the horrible occurrences of this world. In the end, Lewis knows that God is more mystery than reason, and his reliance on Him, and the hope in the resurrection of the dead, is wrapped in a faith in a God who can be found.

‘Poi si torno all’ eternal fontana,’ ends the book. It is from Dante. Beatrice turns to the eternal fountain and keeps walking. Lewis doesn’t dismiss his grief, but he is more at peace with God at the end of his notes, and, like Joy’s last words to the chaplain, Lewis is at peace with God.”    –Zach Kincaid, cslewis.com, February 29, 2012

Contributed by Daniel Christian

“Dante, Near and Far”

“There is much strange in La Vita Nuova, the libello or ‘little book’ that Dante composed fifteen or so years before starting in on the Divine Comedy. Take, for starters, the form of the book, an alternation of prose and poetry that produces effects as dizzying as any in Williams’s Spring and All. Or take the central narrative, which describes a love—young Dante’s, for the slightly younger Beatrice—so intense that it causes the poet to faint in public and forces him, poor lad, to write lying love poems to the donne dello schermo, the ‘screen ladies’ he uses to hide the real object of his affection. Take even Beatrice herself, who begins the book as a girl in a girdled dress only to reveal herself not long after as a miracle made flesh.

[. . .]

That night Dante has a dream, and—perhaps predictably, dreams being dreams—this is where things get weird. In his sleep the poet sees uno segnore di pauroso aspetto emerge from a fiery cloud. Despite his fearful aspect the lord is happy, very possibly because he is carrying in his arms a naked woman asleep beneath a crimson drape. After Dante realizes that the woman is Beatrice, the lord holds up a burning object and tells the dreaming poet, in Latin, Behold your heart. At that moment the lord wakes Beatrice and starts to force-feed her Dante’s flaming heart. With understandable reluctance, Beatrice eats the thing until the lord’s happiness mysteriously turns to grief and he carries her away, presumably to heaven.

[. . .]

Here, too, we get the chance to meet Dante at his most queasily familiar: not as a prodigy reveling in the warm validation of his peers, but as a callow poetaster hearing harsh words from a poet he respects. It’s probably too easy to admire da Maiano’s sonnet for its precocious snark, but I appreciate his poem even more for the rare gift it affords: the chance for once to meet Dante outside the glare of his own genius.”    –Robert P. Baird, The Best American Poetry, January 9, 2012

“Dante’s Vita Nova

“Frisardi has chosen to present his Vita Nuova as Dante’s readers encountered it—as a single book in a single language. In 1861, Dante Gabriel Rossetti made the same monolingual choice, but subsequent translations have usually been bilingual ones (or ones that gave the prose in English but the poems in both Italian and English). Frisardi wishes to offer us the Vita Nuova (which he calls, borrowing Dante’s introductory Latin, Vita Nova) in “contemporary American English”: we sink or swim in an American text. (An appendix reproduces the poems in their original Italian, with literal prose translations.) The monolingual page is the outcome of an understandable decision: few American readers would be much helped by a facing page in thirteenth-century Italian. And, after all, most foreign authors are offered to us in “straight English”—Herodotus, Cervantes, Pascal.

[. . .]

Poems such as those in the Vita Nuova (whatever the continuing efforts to translate their sentiments) entirely lose their function as poems when their constituting sound-chains, their word-notes, are made to disappear. The Vita Nuova has left many rhetorical and thematic legacies to Western poetry—the disturbances and vacillations of possessive love, the eye as the erotic organ par excellence,the refinement of the mixed genre of prose and poetry, the symmetry of the arrangement of the poetic sequence, the drama of direct address to a beloved, the power of simplicity in language in poems of complex interiority—and for all these bequests the Vita Nuova will continue to be remembered and debated. In their original Italian, the poems will be memorized, pondered, and loved. Andrew Frisardi—through his translation, introduction, and generous annotation—enables us to revisit this decisive step in the invention of the Western psyche, and reminds us, by the very difficulties of his attempt at rendering Dante’s verse in English rhyme, of the existence of one peculiar but fundamental species of poetry—ear-fixated, insistent, repetitive, hypnotic—that is resistant even to paraphrase, and, in the end, fatally insusceptible to translation.”    –Helen Vendler, The New Republic, October 5, 2012

Check out Andrew Frisardi’s translation, Vita Nova, on Amazon.

Tappeto Volante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso

The theater troupe Tappeto Volante has staged multiple immersive, ambulatory performances of Dante’s canticles in different locations in the province of Salerno. The first, Inferno, was staged in the Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta (also the backdrop for the 2020 musical Inferno, by the Grieco Brothers) and has been running continuously in the Cave of Castelcivita since 2012. They continued with a performance of Purgatorio at the Certosa di Pedula. They return to Salerno for their Paradiso, staged in the Castello di Arechi (promotional poster, right).

The troupe has also performed their Inferno in the Museo del Sottosuolo, and their Purgatorio in the Real Casa Santa dell’Annunziata, both in Naples.

See the Tappeto Volante website for details and reservations.

Patrizia Tamà, La Quarta Cantica (2010)

Patrizia Tamà’s La Quarta Cantica (Mondadori, 2010), the first of a trilogy featuring a protagonist named Beatrice Maureeno, is a historical crime thriller with a Dantesque premise: it pivots on the existence of a previously undiscovered, mysterious fourth canticle.

“Una giovane donna si aggira in stato confusionale per la stazione di Firenze. Non ricorda più nulla: chi è, come si chiama, perché è lì. Eppure non è una vagabonda qualsiasi. Lo intuisce il misterioso clochard che la soccorre. E se ne rendono subito conto i medici dell’Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova, dove viene ricoverata. Grazie alle cure di un medico che pareva aspettarla come un dono, comincerà presto a dissolversi la nebbia che le riempie la mente e lei vedrà a poco a poco riemergere se stessa, l’identità che credeva perduta. Scoprirà così di essere una studiosa di materie dantesche, inglese ma di origini italiane, giunta a Firenze sulle tracce di un segreto antico, che da settecento anni scorre nell’ombra come un fiume sotterraneo. Ricorderà di chiamarsi Beatrice. Ma le sue sono ricerche pericolose, conducono in Germania, in Turchia, e possono costare la vita, perché non è la sola a dare la caccia a una verità dirompente. [. . .] Davvero il Sommo Dante concepì una Quarta Cantica? E di che cosa si tratta? Davvero la occultò perché fosse consegnata ai posteri in un’epoca finalmente pronta alle sue rivelazioni?” — Google Books

For more, see the review on the blog Il sussurro delle Muse.

Calcabrina – Wolverine and the X-Men

“A witch that harvests souls for Azazel. Became a temporary ally to Frankenstein’s Monster, using her magic to brainwash some of the faculty of the Jean Grey School into believing they were members of the Murder Circus.

[. . .]

First Appearance: Wolverine and the X-Men #19 (December, 2012)”    –“Calcabrina (Earth-616),” Marvel Database Wiki, March 30,2018

 

Journey Through Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell – Led by Sherman Irby

“Last week we introduced you to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Music of Wayne Shorter and indicated that we’d cover more releases from their label. This installment is a suite of seven movements composed and conducted by the JLCO’s lead alto saxophonist, Sherman Irby, Inferno was performed live in 2012 and captured on this recording. It’s Irby’s interpretation of Dante’s epic 14th-century poem of the same name, which follows the author on his imagined, harrowing journey through the nine circles of Hell. To say it’s incendiary (pardon the reference) completely understates the passion of these performances.

“At the heart of the piece is the horn who plays the central character, the late baritone saxophonist that Irby recalls fondly, ‘I wrote this act for Joe Temperley,’ Irby remarks. ‘He was the band’s elder statesman and musical guide for almost 30 years. It was my honor to feature his beautiful, passionate sound as the voice of the central character, Dante.’ This is not an unusual gesture as bandmate, trombonist Chris Crenshaw says, ‘Sherman cares for his brethren, and he cares about this music, and that goes a long way.’ Besides, featuring his bandmates liberally in solos, (Movement V has six of them for example), this music is intelligent, unique, moody and ultimately swings crazily.” [. . .]    –Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine, February 6, 2020

Contributed by Trey Turney (The Bolles School, ’22)

My Cat From Hell Season 2, Episode 4 – “Pissed Off!”

On the season 2 episode of My Cat From Hell titled “Pissed Off!”, Rob tells Stephanie “It’s like going into… Dante’s Inferno of piss.” (My Cat From Hell, Animal Planet, January 28, 2012)

Contributed by Victoria Nicholls (The Bolles School, ’22)