Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book”


ultimateselfhelp-wall-street-journal-image-of-dante
“Everybody knows that The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written. [ . . . ]

“The practical applications of Dante’s wisdom cannot be separated from the pleasure of reading his verse, and this accounts for much of the life-changing power of the Comedy. For Dante, beauty provides signposts on the seeker’s road to truth. The wandering Florentine’s experiences with beauty, especially that of the angelic Beatrice, taught him that our loves lead us to heaven or to hell, depending on whether we are able to satisfy them within the divine order.

“This is why The Divine Comedy is an icon, not an idol: Its beauty belongs to heaven. But it may also be taken into the hearts and minds of those woebegone wayfarers who read it as a guidebook and hold it high as a lantern, sent across the centuries from one lost soul to another, illuminating the way out of the dark wood that, sooner or later, ensnares us all.”

Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante’s Divine Comedy“, Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2014

Contributed by Allen Wong (Bowdoin ’14)

 

Peter Mountford, The Dismal Science (2014)

picture-of-peter-mountford

“The mountain of Purgatory haunts the cover of Peter Mountford’s arresting second novel, The Dismal Science. The image, which calls to mind the second volume of The Divine Comedy, leads the reader into the book, the stark path curling its way up toward Terrestrial Paradise, symbolized by one lonely but verdant tree.

“Purgatory is the underlying structural metaphor of the novel; across its sweep, Vincenzo D’Orsi, the main character, will ascend the mountain as he tries to make sense of, and finally purge, the wreckage of his life.”    –Martha McPhee, “The Dismal Science, by Peter Mountford,” The New York Times, April 11, 2014

“Divine Triptych” Digital Art

divine-triptych-digital-media

“The Divine Comedy is an exploration of the relationship between literature, 3D, stereoscopy and hand-drawn illustration. Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s and Gustave Dore’s classic works, technical artist William Dube and I recreate Dante’s epic quest through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The work was made in Maya and  Mudbox.”    —Behance

Rachelle Meyer, The Divine Comedy (2014)

zoom of meyerdante-lithograph

“Every Litograph design emerges from the text of a book. [. . .] This 24 x 36 inch print includes the full text of Inferno from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translation of The Divine Comedy. The 18 x 24 inch print includes approximately the first three quarters of Inferno.”    —Litographs

Buzzfeed’s 23 Circles of Hell That Should Exist for the Modern Age

buzzfeed-fourteenth-circle-of-hell
Buzzfeed has created a list of the “23 Circles of Hell That Should Exist for the Modern Age.” After Dante’s first nine circles, Adam Ellis has come up with thirteen more from the tenth circle (people who talk at the theater) to the twenty-third (Justin Bieber’s tattoo artist). See the complete list on Buzzfeed.

Contributed by Humberto González Chávez

Jennifer Moses, “In Search of Oxford”

in-search-of-oxford-bodleian-libraryJennifer Moses describes the Bodleian Library at Oxford: “. . .Certain key scenes in the Harry Potter franchise were filmed here, but if it’s more current stuff you’re after, go through the courtyard to the Radcliffe Camera, a classical circular building closed to the public but open to students, who these days are as likely to be studying their Facebook pages as their Dante, but whatever. There’s an almost endless amount of music, theater, dance, movies and lectures to go to in and around the university, as well as evensong at Christ Church Cathedral and various college chapels.”    –Jennifer Moses, “In Search of Oxford,” The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Brigid Pasulka, Sun and Other Stars (2014)

brigid-pasulka-sun-and-other-starsIn his Sunday Book Review of Brigid Pasulka’s novel The Sun and Other Stars, Mike Peed describes the main character Etto: “. . . Etto tries to numb his pain with sarcasm and self-effacement. He is misanthropic and fatalistic, frequently funny and sometimes annoying. He explains himself by quoting Dante: ‘I found myself in a dark wilderness.’ Who will be his Virgil? Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian-born Italian soccer star ensnared in a match-fixing scandal who has absconded to San Benedetto’s supposed seclusion, inveigles Etto into playing regular pickup games and even fashions him a green-and-white jersey, ‘for hope and faith. When you do not have ability.'”    –Mike Peed, The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Richard Rhodes, Absolute Power(2014)

thermonuclear-monarchy-elaine-scarryIn Richard Rhodes’ Sunday Book Review of Thermonuclear Monarchy by Elaine Scarry, he references Dante when envisioning the world after the explosion of nuclear weaponry: “Today there are still about 17,300 nuclear weapons in the world, most of them American or Russian, with a combined destructive force equivalent to 1,500 pounds of TNT for each and every man, woman and child on earth. The detonation of even a fraction of this stockpile could produce a worldwide Chernobyl, followed by a new ice age of dark starvation. Not even Dante imagined a fate so cruel for humankind.”    –Richard Rhodes, “Absolute Power,” The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Kevin Lincoln, “The Death of the Bargain Bin” (2014)

kevin-lincoln-the-death-of-the-bargain-bin-2014

“. . .We, as in the public, are beholden to these people to some extent, because like Dante descending into hell, we need a Virgil to guide us through the terrors that are YouTube and worse (on the Internet, there’s always worse). There has been a severe hamstringing of our agency not only as consumers of art, but also as patrons. What we’ve made up for in efficiency, we’ve lost in potential, and that loss of potential — the feeling that boundaries exist on the artistic world — is immensely dissatisfying. We are becoming increasingly tethered to these algorithms and these influencers, and for a reason: What we’ve created, with the advent of almost unlimited access, is as close as the human race has ever come to the elimination of scarcity. There is still a cap on the amount of movies and TV and music out there waiting for us. But like the edges of space, it is something we’re never going to see.” [. . .]    –Kevin Lincoln, The New York Times, March 14, 2014

Alberto Manguel, “Thoughts That Can’t Be Spoken” (2014)

Alberto-Manguel-Thoughts-Spoken-2014

“[ . . . ] A blood clot in one of the arteries that feeds my brain had blocked for a few minutes the passage of oxygen. As a consequence, some of my brain’s neural passages were cut off and died, presumably ones dedicated to transmitting electric impulses that turn words conceived into words spoken. Unable to go from the act of thinking to its expression, I felt as if I were groping in the dark for something that crumbled at the touch, preventing my thought from forming itself in a sentence, as if its shape (to carry on with my image) had been demagnetized and was no longer capable of attracting the words supposed to define it.

“This left me with a question: What is this thought that has not yet achieved its verbal state of maturity? This, I suppose, is what Dante meant when he wrote that ‘my mind was struck / by lightning bringing me what it wished’ — the desired thought not yet expressed in words.”  –Alberto Manguel, “Thoughts That Can’t Be Spoken,” The New York Times, March 7, 2014