Dante nello spazio: Samantha Cristoforetti reads Paradiso from the International Space Station

In celebration of the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti read from the first canto of Paradiso in a transmission aired from the International Space Station. The reading was aired at the Odeon Cinema in Florence on April 24, 2015.

Watch the transmission on YouTube here.

Read coverage from the Corriere fiorentino here.

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Guy Raffa, “Dante and Don”

In celebration of the poet’s 750th birthday, Guy Raffa (University of Texas, Austin) published an essay in the magazine Pop Matters, comparing Dante with fellow Gemini Don Draper:

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“Matthew Weiner’s brilliant decision to end the series with, in his words, the ‘greatest commercial ever made‘, meshes beautifully — ‘in perfect harmony’ — with the ending of what many believe to be the greatest poem ever written. The culmination of Dante’s journey through the afterlife is his vision of God. He sees the mystery of the Incarnation, the paradoxical union of complete human and divine natures, the Word made flesh. Don’s Moment of Zen produces an equally paradoxical revelation: the marriage of commerce and community achieved by the famous 1971 TV ad. The Word made cash.

“The comparison appears less strange when we consider that Dante himself has become both a product and an ad man. He has become a hot commodity not just for the spiritually, intellectually, or literarily inclined, and not only in Italy, where Roberto Benigni has electrified audiences — in the piazza and on TV — over the past decade with his TuttoDante performances, brought to North America in 2009.” —- Guy Raffa, “Dante and Don: The Word Made Flesh and the Word Made Cash,” Pop Matters

“Dante Turns 750”

Kleiner-Dante-Turns-Seven-Hundred-and-Fifty-690In an essay for the New Yorker in late May 2015 – the approximate date of the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth – John Kleiner (Williams College) offers reflections on Dante’s enduring hold on the Italian imagination:

“Dante’s seven-hundred-and-fiftieth birthday is sometime in the coming month—he was born, he tells us in Paradisounder the sign of Gemini—and, to mark the occasion, more than a hundred events are planned. These include everything from the minting of a new two-euro coin, embossed with the poet’s profile, to a selfie-con-Dante campaign. (Cardboard cutouts of the poet are being set up in Florence, and visitors are encouraged to post pictures of themselves with them using the hashtag #dante750.) There’s talk of extending the celebrations to 2021, the seven-hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death.”  —  John Kleiner, “Dante Turns Seven Hundred and Fifty,” The New Yorker