“Marcus Berkmann: Circles of Hell”

“‘No, that’s definitely the way you want to go,’ said the same man in the hi-vis jacket, whose integrity we were beginning to doubt. But every route we tried, the satnav eventually led us back to the same roundabout, often by the most circuitous of routes. We had no mobile coverage, so could not raise a map by those means. It was like an episode of The Prisoner. Every wrong turning we took, we expected a huge white barrage balloon to head us off.”    –Marcus Berkmann, The Independent, October 9, 2015

“Dante’s Inferno has always been so funny to me…”


“Dante’s Inferno has always been so funny to me because its this really important classic that is constantly referenced, but at the same time it’s really just a burn book. Dante Alighieri is Regina George and he wrote an entire book about a bunch of people he hates and why he hates them. Dante took out his pink gel pen and wrote out in big cursive letters: Achilles is a slut.”   —aphrodarling on tumblr (April 24, 2019)

Regina George is the antagonist of the 2004 film Mean Girls.

Contributed by Kate McKee (Bowdoin College ’22)

Waiting for Dante by Roger Williamson

“It was then she appeared, Beatrice, she who would show me, just in time, the illusion of the beast and the spell to return it to the glass.

Virgil, who was able to bring me into this world but not out of it, because of his own self imprisonment in it, began to fade from view and as he paled so Beatrice seemed to absorb his substance and morphed into my new guide.”    –Roger Williamson, Saatchi Art, October 24, 2015

Hogwarts and Dante – Empyrean Heaven

“In our little excursion through centuries spanning medieval classic to contemporary literature we come now to an end that is really the beginning. Piccarda explained as early as Canto 4 of Paradiso that everywhere in Paradise is Paradise. Yet as a concession to the limited human understanding Dante is introduced to a split up version where the blessed are categorized like in a lexicon.

One could also say the blessed were planted like lovely flowers into different beds of the same garden. The original Hebrew version of the Bible speaks of the Paradise as ‘gan’ what means garden. Only when translated into Greek gan became paradeisos. And as already stated in the very beginning the Greek word paradeisos deceives from a Persian word meaning ‘walled-around place’.

So, the question remains: Is Hogwarts just another ‘walled around place’? Or is Hogwarts Paradise?

[. . .]

Hogwarts is the solid ground that gives the students a home in the outside world as well as in their mind. Only if the students lower their protection and that of the school, Voldemort and the ideas he stand for have a chance to cling to the minds. Otherwise, Hogwarts and his inhabitants are a patch of outer and inner eternity, a temenos, a gan, a paradeisos, the same place Dante saw on Good Friday 1300. Was Dante perhaps truly magical?”    –Aviva Brueckner, Stranger Between Worlds, July 10, 2011

“Why we should read Dante as well as Shakespeare”

“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

Perpetual Astonishment Blog

“Join the journey, canto by canto, through Dante’s universe. This is a world of beauty, terror, holiness, humor and wisdom that is one of the world’s greatest creations.

[. . .]

This website/blogsite is a response to requests from some that we study and journey together. It will slowly expand through the weeks, months and years… or it will disappear all together. Several of us will begin walking through the entire Divine Comedy by Dante, not with me doing all the work, but with all of us involved in reading a canto a week or so, and then sharing insights, discoveries, etc. I will add other posts as I study in other areas.”    —Perpetual Astonishment, February 17, 2014

 

“A White Canon in a World of Color,” by Sierra Lomuto

“I was recently in my hometown of San Francisco, walking through the Mission district on Christmas Eve looking for a place to pop into and get some work done. I had some grading to finish for my Chaucer class. I worked for a bit in a café at Valencia and 24th St. But when it closed early at 4pm, because of the holiday, I made my way toward the local library a couple blocks away.

[. . .]

“Wrapped around the face of the building were etchings of names, six per column, and the first read: Homer, Virgil, Rabelais, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante. My eyes followed the carved words around to the side where they ended, each name digging a pit deeper into my stomach. Here I was, in the heart of the Mission, a Latinx neighborhood for as long as most San Franciscans’ memories can reach back to, and a building that is meant to represent knowledge, learning, community, safety. . . is encased with the names of white men. I wanted this old stone building, this old library in the Mission, to offer me some solace amidst a devastating present, to remind me that knowledge, education, and learning are paths out of socio-economic oppression.

“Instead, it reminded me that those paths too often lead us toward our own epistemological oppression—and do too little for the places and people we came from. The façade of the Mission library reminded me that those paths belong to white men; the rest of us merely walk them. [. . .]”   –Sierra Lomuto, “A White Canon in a World of Color,” Medievalists of Color (March 26, 2019)

“Beauty Awakens the Soul to Act” by Angelica Hopes

“We visited the house of Dante Alighieri. It’s rebuilt to celebrate the place of Dante Alighieri’s birth and its location is based on old documents reported from 13th century of the houses of the Alighieri family. [. . .]

“On the first floor, documents of the 13th century Florence and the younger days of Dante, his baptism in the Baptistery of Santa Maria del Fiore, his public life, his election in the office of prior of the town and his participation in political/military struggles, there are plastic model of the Battle of Campaldino and interesting weapons of that time.

“Going to the 2nd floor, shows the documents in connection with his painful exile in 1301, year of condemnation. In the 3rd floor, there’s the collection of documents on the fortune of Dante through the centuries, iconography. While sitting inside, admiring the historical artefacts and rich information on the influences of Florentine history to Dante Alighieri’s work, I was speechless and absorbed the moment with gratitude reflecting from my English term paper project in fourth year high school on the Divine Comedy, twenty three years later here I am and I got a copy of La Divina Commedia in its original language.” [. . .]     –Angelica Hopes, Landscapes of a Heart, October 27, 2012.

“The Seven Circles of Dishwashing Hell”

“I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but sometimes, even the most mundane of chores becomes epic to me. Dante Alighieri may have been writing about Hell in his Inferno, but it seems just like dishwashing to me.

Every night after dinner, it goes something like this:

Limbo – Some people think dinner is over. Some people just finally sat down to eat 30 seconds ago. No one is actively clearing the table, but some dishes are in the sink.

[. . .]

Gluttony – So I ate the brownies and ice cream. And it became like the mud Virgil (Dante’s guide in the underworld, you’ll recall) fed to the three mouths of Cerberus.

[. . .]

Violence – A river of blood (how my hands feel right now) is where Dante finds those who are violent to their neighbor. Gnarled thorny trees (how my hands feel) are those who are violent to themselves. The great plain of burning sand (does anyone have any Bag Balm? I think the skin on my hands needs revitalizing!) is what awaits those who are violent toward God.

[. . .]

The absolute center of hell – Like Lucifer, half submerged in the ice lake, one last thing remains in the sink: the soggy, stubborn end of an onion, carelessly tossed in the there and causing a slow drain. I pluck it out and head literally to the TV room, but metaphorically into the River of Lethe, or forgetfulness. Otherwise, why would I do this again tomorrow night?”    –Beth McConnell, A Madison Mom, September 10, 2016

“How long will I be on Submission? (they sob)”

“The Wait haunts all stages of writing for publication. There are different levels of waiting, a bit like Dante’s circles of hell. Waiting for critique, waiting to hear from agents, waiting to receive edits, waiting for feedback on edits, waiting waiting waiting W A I T I N G.”    –Lindsay Galvin, LindsayGalvin.com, October 5, 2017