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)

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S03E01

“It sounds insane to say but Sabrina’s journey through hell merged both The Wizard of OZ and Dante’s Inferno and it worked perfectly. Sabrina’s journey ends with a dash of Milton’s Paradise Lost and it’s all rendered is horrifying, beautiful images that would make any Renaissance poet swoon.

“It stands to reason that Dante, who took the most famous journey through hell in literature would get a shout out in Sabrina. She’s assigned to read it by her poor, formerly possessed teacher Miss Wardwell and from that gets the idea of finding a backdoor into hell, so she can save her boyfriend. Just doing Dante would be fine here, but we get the first hints of Oz as Sabrina gathers three friends to join her. And to get through hell, they need special shoes. Not ruby slippers though, but shoes of the dead. I guess the Ruby Slippers technically belonged to a dead person too, so well-played.

“After a spell that directly quotes Dante’s version of the inscription on the gates of hell – ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ – Sabrina, Harvey, Roz and Theo arrive in hell on the ‘Shore of Sorrow’ which sounds a lot like the way Dante arrives in hell himself, on the shores of the river Acheron (yes, Acheron is a term we hear in Sabrina for a trap for a demon). [. . .]”   — Jessica Mason, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Journeys to a Hellish Oz by Way of Dante’s Inferno,” Review (with spoilers!) of Season Premiere of Part Three of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, 2020) on The Mary Sue

In Dante Veritas, Vasily Klyukin

In Dante Veritas is a large scale, immersive multimedia exhibition by Russian sculptor Vasily Klyukin. It represents a narrative that recreates the nine circles of hell, and includes over 100 multimedia elements, such as sculpture, installation, digital art, audio and light boxes. The exhibitions includes sculptural works, most of which represent negative human traits such as Anger, Gluttony and Betrayal.

“The most prominent sculptural pieces are the Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse. The artist has translated the traditional Horsemen (plague, war, hunger and death) into a modern day version: Overpopulation, Misinformation, Extermination and Pollution.

[. . .]

“The immersive exhibition encourages visitors to examine the sculptures with an audio guide narrated in the style of Dante’s poems. The sculptures of human sins also portray the punishment that comes with the sin. For instance, Gluttony is incredibly obese and Temptation has no limbs.

“The exhibition also includes a ‘prison’ room, further embodying the topic of sin. Famous criminals such as Stalin, Pablo Escobar and Bokassa are imprisoned here. The prison has a dungeon room – Betrayal – which represents Hell. Visitors are encouraged to leave notes on the wall, allowing them to name people who have betrayed them, or to write a message of forgiveness.

“The exhibition ends on a positive note. The Heart of Hope is a large sculpture of a heart at the centre of the exhibition, which was also displayed at the Burning Man festival in 2017. It symbolises the ability to stop all the negative traits and sins. Visitors are given a bracelet which transmits a signal to the statue, which then beats in the rhythm of the bracelet wearer’s heartbeat.”    —Elucid Magazine

“I Have Wasted My Life,” Justin Phillip Reed (2020)

The poem “I Have Wasted My Life” by American poet and essayist Justin Phillip Reed invents the neologism “alighieried”: “No, / I alighieried down this sunken navel / to also cape for waste.” Read the full poem on Poetry Daily here (featured on January 23, 2020).

Contributed by Silvia Valisa (Florida State University)

“Dante nell’Inferno di Fukushima: Lorenzo Amato intervista Kazumasa Chiba”

On January 22, 2020, the journal Insula europea published Lorenzo Amato’s interview with Japanese visual artist Kazumasa Chiba, who, over the last twenty years, has dedicated his art to translating scenes from the Commedia into contemporary political and moral commentary. “Come su un palcoscenico teatrale,” writes Amato, “Chiba si ‘traveste’ da Dante e si muove in grandi paesaggi allegorici costruiti su elementi culturali ibridi, che derivano dal sincretismo di cultura popolare giapponese e tradizioni classiche occidentali e orientali, antiche e moderne.” In 2012 he was awarded the Toshiko Okamoto Award for his work that interprets the Fukushima earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster as an Inferno in the manner of Dante.

Here’s a brief extract from Amato’s interview with Chiba:

“Dante nomina in modo molto chiaro le persone famose che secondo lui sono colpevoli di qualcosa, anche se sono ancora vive. Diciamo che questo tipo di poesia mi ha mostrato una possibile strada per affrontare con l’arte i problemi del mondo, e quindi anche sfogare la rabbia che a volte provo nei confronti di certe persone, politici o responsabili di avvenimenti importanti, come tutte le persone coinvolte nel disastro di Fukushima. Ogni volta che succedono disastri, o che vengono fatte scelte a livello politico che poi provocano conseguenze negative, provo una forte rabbia. È raro che le persone comuni possano avere un qualche impatto su quelle scelte, e a volte mi verrebbe voglia di mostrare il mio dissenso in forma di protesta anche violenta. In questo senso l’arte è un modo per sfogare questa rabbia, ma anche per lasciare un segno, ovvero per mostrare quello che penso.” — Kazumasa Chiba, in an interview with Lorenzo Amato, Insula europea, January 22, 2020

An exhibit of Chiba’s work, called “A Modern Interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy,” was shown at the Mizuma Art Gallery in Tokyo from August 21 to September 21, 2019.

“Dante’s Inferno 2 Isn’t Happening: Here’s Why”

“A follow-up was heavily teased in the game’s cliffhanger ending, but here’s why Dante’s Inferno 2 never left development hell.

[. . .]

In 2011 writer Joshua Rubin was linked to pen Dante’s Inferno 2, but since then, very little has been heard about a sequel. Following the very mixed reception to Dead Space 3 in 2013 and the cancellation of their high-profile Star Wars game, Visceral Games was shut down by EA in 2017.

The downfall of the Dead Space franchise – which didn’t hit EA’s unreasonable sales expectations – is likely the true reason Dante’s Inferno 2 didn’t happen. Nearly a decade since the original game was released and the shuttering of Visceral make the odds of a sequel very bleak.”    –Padraig Cotter, Screen Rant, January 2, 2020

Learn more about EA’s 2010 video game, Dante’s Inferno, on Dante Today here.

Dante’s Inferno Inspired Coffee Mug

A wide-bottomed coffee mug that will keep your beverage infernally hot.

Check out this mug for sale on Wayfair here.

33 violins and a cello in honor of Dante

Leonardo Frigo is producing 33 violins, each with an illustration of 33 canti of Inferno (Cantos 2-34) , and a cello with Inf. 1, in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death in 2021.    –Alessandro Allocca, La Repubblica, Jan. 20, 2020

Contributed by Alessandra Mazzocchi (Florida State University, ‘MA 2019)

Hell Passport Notebook

“You’d think that getting into Hell would be easy. It USED to be – but like airport travel and filing tax returns, everything is more complex these days.

Have no fear! The Hell Passport notebook can make your passage into eternal damnation a piece of Devil’s food cake. It looks and feels just like an actual passport with a place for personal information, a passport photo, and useful travel tips. And if you don’t have any immediate plans to go to Hell, it also functions as a handy and cool little notebook to jot down your most devilish thoughts. (Warning: the pages are not flame retardant, so keep your passport a safe distance from the burning brimstone, okay?)

Ruled pages to keep track of all the goings-on in your circle of Hell.”    –The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, Philosophers Guild

25 March: Dantedì

“Il Consiglio dei ministri, su proposta del ministro per i Beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo, Dario Franceschini, ha approvato la direttiva che istituisce per il 25 marzo la giornata nazionale dedicata a Dante Alighieri. ‘Ogni anno, il 25 marzo, data che gli studiosi riconoscono come inizio del viaggio nell’aldilà della Divina Commedia, si celebrerà il Dantedì. Una giornata per ricordare in tutta Italia e nel mondo il genio di Dante con moltissime iniziative che vedranno un forte coinvolgimento delle scuole, degli studenti e delle istituzioni culturali.’

“‘A un anno dalle celebrazioni dei 700 anni dalla morte di Dante’ – ha aggiunto Franceschini –  ‘sono già tanti i progetti al vaglio del Comitato per le celebrazioni presieduto dal prof. Carlo Ossola. Dante’ – ha concluso Franceschini – ‘ricorda molte cose che ci tengono insieme: Dante è l’unità del Paese, Dante è la lingua italiana, Dante è l’idea stessa di Italia.'”   –“Dante Alighieri entra in calendario: il 25 marzo sarà ‘Dantedì,'” La Repubblica (17 gennaio 2020)

Contributed by Ludovica Valentini (Florida State University, MA ’18)