“Il Dante di Pupi Avati”

“Da studiosa del tardo medioevo letterario, nonché da appassionata di cinema, trovo molto interessante l’idea di Pupi Avati di costruire un racconto cinematografico sulla vita dell’Alighieri prendendo le mosse dal Trattatello in laude di Dante di Giovanni Boccaccio, che è – come si sa – la biografia più antica sulla prima corona della nostra letteratura. Si tratta di un’idea senza dubbio originale e, nel contempo, difficile.

[. . .]

Il Trattatello in laude di Dante è il risultato di un’instancabile ricerca di notizie e documenti recuperati dal Certaldese in diversi luoghi della nostra penisola (soprattutto fra Toscana e Romagna) e grazie alla diretta testimonianza di amici (Giovanni Villani, Cino da Pistoia e Dino Perini), discepoli (Pietro Giardini), parenti del poeta (Andrea di Leone Poggi) e di familiari della stessa Beatrice (la cugina Lippa de’ Mardoli). Una parte degli elementi biografici è poi da lui desunta naturalmente dalle opere letterarie dell’Alighieri, comprese le sue epistole.”    –Monica Berte, Insula Europea, January 30, 2020

Dante’s Inferno Video Game 10 Years Later

“Released back in 2010 by Visceral Games – the lovely folks who brought us Dead Space – Dante’s Inferno is a creative adaptation of the classic poem. Through its incredible design, gameplay, and narrative, Dante’s Inferno has come to be one of the most exhilarating action games of the 2010s.

For the sake of presenting a more action-driven story, Visceral went ahead and made a few changes to the source material. Whereas Dante is a poet and Beatrice is a symbol of Divine Love in the poem, the former is a soldier and the latter is his lover in the game.

The story begins with Dante during the Third Crusade (1189–1192). In the midst of combat, he is all of a sudden stabbed; he awakens on another plane having to confront the physical embodiment of death. After defeating death, Dante steals his scythe and returns home – only to find his father and love Beatrice dead. This is when Dante discovers the latter’s soul being dragged to Hell by Lucifer. From there, along with his guide Virgil (just like in the poem), Dante transverses through Hell to save his love (laying waste to every demon in his path).

[. . .]

Ten years later and I’m still amazed by this game. From its fantastic action and creative approach to the source material, Dante’s Inferno is a fascinating title. Inferno proved to be a visual treat to me when I first read it; never could I have ever expected how Visceral Games could take such a classic and elevate its imagery. Dante’s Inferno is not only an amazing action game, but it’s also an excellent journey into one of the most nightmarish representations of Hell ever depicted in art.”    –Michael Pementel, Bloody Disgusting, February 4, 2020

“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 Window by Violet Oakley

Collection of Divine Comedy inspired work by artist Violet Oakley, kept by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

A. T. Pratt

Collection of illustrations by artist A. T. Pratt, inspired by several moments from Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970)

“Thus [Soaphead Church] chose to remember Hamlet’s abuse of Ophelia, but not Christ’s love of Mary Magdalene; Hamlet’s frivolous politics, but not Christ’s serious anarchy. He noticed Gibbon’s acidity, but not his tolerance, Othello’s love for the fair Desdemona, but not Iago’s perverted love of Othello. The works he admired most were Dante’s; those he despised most were Dostoyevsky’s. For all his exposure to the best minds of the Western world, he allowed only the narrowest interpretation to touch him. He responded to his father’s controlled violence by developing hard habits and a soft imagination. A hatred of, and fascination with, any hint of disorder or decay.

“At seventeen, however, he met his Beatrice, who was three years his senior.”   –Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970)

For more on this passage, see Dennis Looney, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 183-188.

“Assignation” by Sante Matteo

“Sante Matteo was born and raised in a small town in southern Italy. He is Professor Emeritus of Italian Studies in Oxford, Ohio, home of Miami University. In retirement he is enjoying trying his hand at creative writing, some of which has recently appeared or are forthcoming in Dime Show Review, The Chaffin Journal, and Coffin Bell Journal.  This ten word story was typed on a Smith Corona Super-Silent, c. 1957.”    —Dime Show Review, March 2020

 

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.

David Shapiro, “Dante and Beatrice (at Forty-Seven)”

David Shapiro’s “Dante and Beatrice (at Forty-Seven)” appeared in vol. 29, no. 5 of the American Poetry Review (full text available here). Here is how it begins:

“are kitsch six inches of a gold bronze toy
sculpture on my wife’s dead grandmother’s
delicate endtables ours
separated by a red grace and pink
candles and some smaller
horribly-shaped vegetable-like candles pointing
Dante looks like the mayor showing not pointing
of a small-town corruption
in a small cap he wears not against the
winter a cruel righteous careerist
grim as glucose and morose to boot
boasting of pride like a tiger on a street
Beatrice in nightgown her sin hope
a girl always about to go to bed
by herself and her long ringlets
as voluptuous as her nightgown
She is sexual and sad and refuses
to look at that businessman of words
all this is a gift from Mickey Mouse who
said when he saw them it had to be
for me Goofy who took the sleep
out of the Comedy and took the
flowers and took the fathers, too
until what was left for a fatuous cento
like a student who translates
all vulgarity into ancient Greek a mistake

So if a person loves you they could say
I want to be in Hell with you forever
like two bats summoned on a windy
word by a poet having a mid-life decision

[. . .]”

Read the rest of the poem in The American Poetry Review 29.5 (2000).

Franz Liszt, “Dante Sonata”

“Franz Liszt’s Dante Sonata, also known as the Fantasia Quasi Sonata, is a sonata written for piano solo (different than Liszt’s Dante Symphony). Written as program music during the Romantic period, there are nine different motifs used throughout the piece, representing the nine different levels of Hell. In addition, within the nine motifs, Liszt created two major themes or ideas, one in major and one in minor. The minor is said to represent the dark nature of Hell, and the major is said to represent Beatrice and Heaven.” –Contributor Ian Peiris

Listen to Mikhail Pletnev’s recording of the piece on YouTube (last accessed February 19, 2020). See also the previous post for Liszt’s Dante Symphony here.

Contributed by Ian Peiris (The Bolles School ’22)