Paradiso After Dante by Emma Haworth.
“Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.
Dante is much more remote – a medieval Italian author, writing about a trip he claims to have made through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise at Easter 1300, escorted first by a very dead poet, Virgil, and then by his dead beloved, Beatrice. and meeting the souls of lots of people we only vaguely know of, if we’ve heard of them at all. First he sees the damned being punished in ways we are likely to find grotesque or repulsive. And then, when he meets souls working their way towards heavenly bliss or already enjoying it, there are increasing doses of philosophy and theology for us to digest.
[. . .]
The addictiveness is evident from the fact that Dante enthusiasts, Christian or not, find it hard to imagine Hell in any other way, and spend happy minutes musing about which circle is best suited to some particular friend, enemy or public figure. Dante thought Paradise was much more difficult to get into and much more difficult to describe. We are certainly not accustomed to prolonged evocations of happiness. Paradiso gives us one way, and an astoundingly dynamic one, of thinking about what human happiness might ultimately be.” –Peter Hainsworth, Oxford University Press Blog, February 27, 2015
Bianca Garavelli’s Le terzine perdute di Dante is a historical thriller that follows the affairs of the poet himself, in exile in Paris, and a contemporary scholar who appears to have discovered the poet’s autograph in a manuscript in Milan. The novel was published by BUR Rizzoli in 2015.
“Parigi, 1309. Dante, in esilio, stanco e spaventato, vive nel terrore di essere perseguitato dai suoi numerosi nemici. Una delle sue poche consolazioni è la compagnia di una donna misteriosa, Marguerite Porete, una mistica accusata di eresia della quale Dante diventa il miglior allievo, e che lo conduce nel centro di una guerra spietata fra due ordini che agiscono nell’ombra. In gioco c’è un pericoloso segreto, una profezia di cui l’Alighieri è il depositario prescelto. Ed è il filologo medievale Riccardo Donati a mettersi sulle tracce di quel mistero centinaia di anni dopo, nella Milano dei giorni nostri: mentre esamina un antico manoscritto si imbatte in quella che ha tutta l’aria di essere la firma autografa di Dante. Sarà l’inizio di una vorticosa e inattesa avventura che stravolgerà per sempre la vita di Riccardo, e non solo. Un romanzo sospeso tra passato e presente, tra storia, letteratura e azione, per un thriller storico che si trasforma in una caccia all’uomo frenetica e appassionante.” —BUR
See more at Bianca Garavelli’s website here.
“While The Divine Comedy most clearly reflects the Catholic faith of the poet and his medieval world, it hints at some principles the Reformation would bring to bear on the church two centuries later. Dante purposely wrote in a low style that would have popular appeal despite its highly spiritual subject matter. While the church produced works in Latin, Dante wrote in the vernacular. His choice was revolutionary, ensuring the work could and would be read by common men as well as by women and children (who still study the work extensively in Italian schools today).
“Despite its loftiness, The Divine Comedy is firmly grounded in the gritty and the mundane. In fact, Dante didn’t use the word divine in his title. He simply titled it Commedia, which at the time meant a work with a happy ending as opposed to a tragic one. (The word ‘divine’ was added by a later editor and has stuck through the years.) In casting a fictional version of himself as the central figure, The Divine Comedy is prophetically personal, confessional, and autobiographical. In this way it emphasizes a surprisingly modern sense of self-determination, one that foreshadows the famous ‘Protestant work ethic.’ Moreover, in its accent on the salvation and purification of the individual soul, this work of the Catholic Dante anticipates the spiritual autobiographies of Puritans such as John Bunyan. The Divine Comedy is a story of someone seeking salvation. In Dante’s own words, the poem’s purpose is to lead readers from ‘a state of wretchedness to a state of happiness.’ And while depicting salvation in the afterlife, it’s clear Dante intends readers to find abundant life in the here and now.” [. . .] –Karen Swallow Prior, The Gospel Coalition, October 21, 2015.
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Famous poem: Divine Comedy
Famous quote: ‘Consider your origin; you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.’
[. . .]
Poetry — one of the most important and time-honored forms of literature in the world — brought us greats like William Shakespeare and W.B. Yeats to ancient poets like Homer and Dante Alighieri to American treasures like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.” –Mo Elinzano, Deseret News, March 20, 2015