Teodolinda Barolini interview in Corriere della Sera (May 2020)

In May 2020, Paolo di Stefano interviewed Teodolinda Barolini for the Corriere della Sera, on how and why to read Dante in the 21st century. Below, an excerpt from the interview, which can be read in full here:

Corriere: “Secondo lei quale aspetto di Dante può affascinare di più un lettore giovane del nostro tempo?”

Barolini: “Il fatto che Dante è un uomo che ha voglia di capire, come Ulisse. Mentre Virgilio nel II libro dell’Eneide squalifica Ulisse come fraudolento, Dante trova il lato positivo di Ulisse in Orazio e soprattutto in quella bellissima espressione di Cicerone che, nel De finibus, definisce la sua discendi cupiditas. Il Convivio comincia con la frase di Aristotele: ‘Tutti li uomini naturalmente desiderano di sapere.’ Ecco, è la brama di sapere il vero motore di Dante.”

Corriere: “Come leggere Dante a scuola?”

Barolini: “Il modo più utile è prendere il testo alla lettera. Basterebbe far leggere ai ragazzi il racconto, avendo fiducia nella narratività della Commedia. Io mi dispero quando arrivo a Petrarca per far capire ai giovani quanto siano squisite quelle poesie, questo sì è un problema. Ma non ci si può disperare di fronte alla Commedia che è un grande motore narrativo che trascina tutti con sé.”   — “Dante, un ribelle. Ora leggiamolo.” Interview of Teodolinda Barolini by Paolo di Stefano. Corriere della Sera (May 31, 2020)

Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy” (2020)

“In the middle of of our industrialized cities, surrounded by concrete, metal, and plastic structures, baseball parks enclose a green field, a vestigial ‘paradise’ in the original Persian sense of the word.  Within that symbolic space a ritual is routinely performed.  Throngs of worshippers (spectators, fans) participate vicariously while members of a revered priestly class (players, coaches, and umpires) re-enact the story of humanity’s exile from Eden and the perennial longing to return there: to make it all the way around back to home base.

“Circling the bases—itself an expression redolent of another perennial quixotic human quest: that of squaring the circle; or inversely in this case, circling the square: the bases forming a square, or diamond, that the base runner circles–and reaching home constitutes a journey analogous to the one that Dante undertakes in his Divine Comedy.  Finding himself lost in a dark wood, Dante sets off–with Virgil and then Beatrice as his first- and third-base ‘coaches’–on a voyage that will take him first through the circles of Hell (first base),  then the slopes of Purgatory (second base), and then the planetary and starry spheres of Paradise (third base), all the way to the Empyrean (home plate), where the souls that have achieved salvation dwell in the presence of God.” [. . .]  — Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy,” KAIROS Literary Magazine, May 1, 2020

Contributed by Sante Matteo (Miami University, OH)

@Dante_Alighieri Twitter Profile

“Twitter profile dedicated to Dante Alighieri (@Dante_Aligheri) managed by Matteo Maselli, which periodically publishes original material related to the Italian poet: reports of Dantean cultural events, open-access educational material, breaking news. The profile was opened to make available to Dantisti and scholars in general an open space for free consultation and exchange of ideas.”  — Contributor Matteo Maselli

Contributed by Matteo Maselli (Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, 2017)

Mark Vernon’s Podcast Dante’s Divine Comedy (2020)

“This year, 2020, marks the 700th anniversary of the completion of the great Divine Comedy. I invite you to experience the odyssey, too, by accompanying me as I discuss each canto.

“Dante begins his journey by waking up in a dark wood. The air tastes bitter. He becomes fearful. Truth is out of reach. But his crisis is a turning point.

“Many today, too, are waking up to something that’s gone wrong. We’re in a spiritual crisis. We must see the world afresh and understand. I believe Dante can help us discover how.

“I’ll post reflections on two or more cantos each week as we reach for the highest heavens. Follow every step of the way on YouTube [. . .] or via the podcast, Dante’s Divine Comedy.”  — Mark Vernon

Inferno Pop-up Book by Massimo Missiroli, with Paolo Rambelli (2020)

La Divina Commedia, composta da Dante Alighieri nei primi vent’anni del XIV secolo, è universalmente ritenuta una delle più grandi opere della letteratura di tutti i tempi. Le illustrazioni per la Commedia di Gustave Dorè sono divenute un riferimento iconografico imprescindibile non solo per i lettori successivi di Dante ma per tutti coloro che hanno cercato di trasporlo sul grande schermo.

“Per la prima volta Dante e Dorè diventano ora protagonisti di un libro pop-up – cioè di ciò che è più vicino alla dinamicità del cinema pur conservando la forma base del libro – grazie all’opera di uno dei più apprezzati paper engineer a livello internazionale: Massimo Missiroli. Il cartotecnico italiano, già vincitore del Premio Andersen nel 2001 e candidato al premio Meggendorfer nel 2004, ha infatti realizzato, in collaborazione con Paolo Rambelli dell’Università di Bologna per la parte testuale, una straordinaria versione pop-up dell’Inferno Dantesco, sfruttando per ogni illustrazione una diversa tecnica di sviluppo verticale delle figure, così da rinnovare ad ogni pagina lo stupore per la capacità evocativa del capolavoro dedicato da Dorè al capolavoro di Dante.

“Un’opera unica ed originale che i collezionisti di pop-up, così come gli amanti di Dante e di Dorè non possono non possedere.”  — Project Website

See a prototype of the pop-up book on YouTube (last accessed May 24, 2020).

To help fund the project, visit the Kickstarter page (expires June 21, 2020).

“Celebrate Dante and Help Fight the Coronavirus”

 

“Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz has a heart for God. It’s evident in his works, such as ‘Homeless Jesus,’ his popular portrayal of Jesus sleeping on a park bench, and more recently, ‘Angels Unawares,’ Schmalz’ three-ton sculpture based on Hebrews 13:2. That latter sculpture, which depicts a boat carrying 140 migrants and refugees from periods of stress throughout recorded history, was unveiled by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in September 2019.

“In Italy, March 25 [2020] was the first official ‘Dante Day’ — a day dedicated by the Italian government to celebrate the accomplishments of the Florentine poet who penned the long narrative poem titled The Divine Comedy. On that day, Schmalz introduced a new set of sculptures through an online book which will include a series of 100 sculptures, representing all 100 cantos in the Divine Comedy. Modern readers have found the existing translations of the Divine Comedy from the original Italian, including one translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, somewhat cumbersome — so Schmalz is partnering with translator Daniel Fitzpatrick, who is working to produce an easy-to-read version that will appeal to a wide audience.

[. . .]

“Schmalz had originally intended for the book’s initial release to be in hardcover March 25, 2021, when the nation of Italy will celebrate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. That plan changed, however, when Schmalz became aware of the scope of the tragedy emerging in Italy due to the novel coronavirus. ‘As I was coming to my studio early last Friday,’ Schmalz told the Register, ‘I was listening to the news about the horrors and the tragedy that’s happening in Italy. I thought, “Isn’t it ironic? Here I am, creating this greatest hero of Italy, while Italy is going through such a horrible situation!” Then I put the two things together: I could use the book to help Italy!’

“Daniel Fitzpatrick, the translator, agreed, and plans were made to release the book of poetry and art in a series format, and to donate all proceeds from sales of the e-book to help the hospitals of Italy better care for their critically ill patients. For a donation of just $5, readers can sign up to receive two cantos each week — one on Wednesday and the second on Sunday — beginning with Dante’s first vision of the Inferno, and culminating in the Paradiso, in time for Italy’s 700th anniversary celebration.”    –Kathy Schiffer, National Catholic Register, March 30, 2020

See our original post about Timothy Schmalz here.

Dante 700 by Timothy Schmalz

“In September 2019, Timothy Schmalz’s ‘Angels Unawares,’ a life-size bronze sculpture commemorating the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, was installed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass for the occasion.

Timothy is currently working on a new project to honor the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri in 2021. ‘I believe Dante is one of the greatest writers of all time. So, I thought I would do what has never been done before. I think this is an amazing opportunity to celebrate not only Dante, but Italian and European culture.’ He plans to sculpt each of Dante’s 300 cantos. The ‘Dante 700’ sculpture project will memorialize this significant anniversary with sculptures of each of the 100 cantos in the Divine Comedy. Very few artists ever represent more than the Inferno in their paintings and sculptures. This is a rare project that will show individual sculptures of all the cantos, including Purgatory and Paradise.

The project will include the cantos and a principal sculpture of Dante. Installed together and cast in bronze, the work will be dynamically represented in order to inspire people to actually read Dante. This sculpture project will also be used to create a new illustrated book of Dante in collaboration with a new translation, which will be finished for the anniversary year in 2021.”    —La Gazzetta Italiana, April 2020

“Dante’s Inferno: Navigating the Complexities of Hell in As Above, So Below

These words scrawled across the walls beneath the Paris Catacombs mark the entrance to Hell for the characters in As Above, So Below. They herald in a nightmarish final act. The very same words that mark the gates to Hell in writer Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his epic poem of Divine ComedyInferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. Their journey begins on Good Friday, and the pair emerges from Hell early on Easter morning under a starry sky. Though As Above, So Below draws from various mythologies, it’s Dante’s Inferno and its complex rendering of Hell that most closely mirrors protagonist Scarlett Marlowe’s quest, making for an atypical found footage film that offers impressively layered world-building.

[. . .]

The only way out is down. That they descend through a well is significant. Scarlett explains the phrase “as above, so below” is the key to all magic. What happens in one reality occurs in another, presenting a bizarre mirror-like symmetry to their voyage. The group begins by climbing down a well, and they end it by going down another well. In Inferno, wells play a part in getting Dante and his guide to the eighth and ninth circles. Later, Dante and Virgil finally reach the center of Hell and begin their escape by continuing downward. Dante is convinced they’re returning to Hell, only to realize gravity has changed, and they’re climbing up to the surface. Dante, half-way through his life, begins his journey spiritually lost. More than just a guide to Hell, Virgil becomes his guide to virtue and mortal. That’s mirrored in Scarlett, reckless and reeling from the loss of her father, and George, the strict rule-abiding ethical anchor. Much of George’s fear for breaking the law stems from spending time in a Turkish prison before the events of the film, which also parallel’s Virgil in that he detailed his personal trip through Hell in his poem Aeneid. ”    –Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting, April 10, 2020

See our original post on As Above, So Below here.

“A Dante-esque Limbo”: Unemployment Claims in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

“With a flood of unemployment claims continuing to overwhelm many state agencies, economists say the job losses may be far worse than government tallies indicate.

“The Labor Department said Thursday that 3.8 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the six-week total to 30 million. But researchers say that as the economy staggers under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of others have lost jobs but have yet to see benefits.

[. . .]

NYTimes-Coronavirus-Pandemic-Unemployment-Dante-Limbo

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times

“New York has started processing claims from gig workers and freelancers, but one of those, Seth Flicker of Brooklyn, hasn’t had any luck.

“‘Not a phone call nor an email, nothing,’ said Mr. Flicker, 52, who applied in mid-March after his work as a handyman came to a halt. ‘We are stuck with absolutely nowhere to turn,’ he said, calling his situation ‘a Dante-esque limbo.’

“Mr. Flicker was able to delay paying his electric bill without a penalty and sent a check to the phone company, but he is worried about covering May’s rent. ‘I haven’t figured it out yet,’ he said. ‘It’s nerve-racking.'”  –Nelson D. Schwartz, Tiffany Hsu, and Patricia Cohen, “Stymied in Seeking Benefits, Millions of Unemployed Go Uncounted,” The New York Times, April 30, 2020

Contributed by Martin Kavka, Florida State University

Dig In

“Something’s Awry Productions is a small animation studio that has worked with Funny or Die, NBC Universal, Disney, and even LEGO. Now, they have a new animated short they’re trying to make called Dig In about a boy who dives into his giant birthday cake in something reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno.

“‘Dig In is a 7-minute CG animation about a boy who receives a birthday cake so huge that he has to descend through its layers, in the style of Dante’s Inferno, to rescue his pet lizard. He travels through 9 distinct layers of a cake where the stakes get higher as he gets closer to the bottom.'”    –Tommy Williams, GeekTyrant, April 6, 2020