«Noi leggiavamo. . .»: Visual re-mediations of Canto 5 in the journal Arabeschi

In honor of Dantedì (March 25) 2021, the journal Arabeschi published a special issue dedicated to the visual re-mediations of the figures of Paolo and Francesca in Inferno 5. With an introduction by Gaetano Lalomia and Giovanna Rizzarelli, and featuring essays and virtual exhibits by Marcello Ciccuto, Laura Pasquini, and others, the special issue covers in depth the rich history of iconographic reception, across various visual media, of the story of Dante’s star-crossed lovers in the 20th and 21st centuries. At right is a screenshot of selected contributions to the issue.

Read the full issue (with image gallery) here.

Read the introduction by Lalomia and Rizzarelli here.

Victoria Ocampo, Autobiografía II: La rama de Salzburgo (1980)

“Victoria utilizará también una serie de referentes literarios, teniendo siempre como principal a la pareja Francesca y Paolo, dos amantes que aparecen en la Divina Comedia en el Canto V del Infierno. Dante habla con ellos y siente gran compasión por su amor, de modo que entabla un diálogo con ellos – algo que el autor no hace con casi nadie de los personajes en los tres libros. Asimismo, habla de Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Emily Brönte, entre otros.”   –Review on El buen librero (August 8, 2014)

Ocampo also published De Francesca à Beatrice, a commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy, in 1923.

“Dante (Quinto Canto),” Painting by Mihail Ivanov

“This is the fifth song in the Divine Comedy, where Dante Alighieri ventures through the circles of hell, a lonely soul separates itself from the others and presents herself to the author, telling him her sad life story.”   —SAATCHI ART

“Did Dante Alighieri Suffer From a Sleep Disorder?” by Henry Nicholls

“I was at a conference, standing in the queue for coffee during a break between sessions, and the woman in front of me went down. As she fell, she resembled a push puppet, one of those little elasticated toys that collapses when you press the button on the base. It all happened very quickly, but if it had been possible to slow down the motion, I would have seen her head drop first, chin onto chest, her shoulders relax, arms flop to her sides, and legs buckle.

[. . .]

“This is cataplexy, a condition in which emotions can cause the body’s muscles to fail; it affects many people with narcolepsy. Nathaniel Kleitman understood the difference between narcolepsy (the sleep) and cataplexy (the collapsing fits) only too well. ‘Boredom and monotony favor narcolepsy; gaiety and excitement, cataplexy,’ he wrote in Sleep and Wakefulness.

[. . .]

“Giuseppe Plazzi, head of the sleep lab at the University of Bologna, has argued that Dante Alighieri might have suffered from narcolepsy with cataplexy all the way back in the 14th century, as his autobiographical masterpiece The Divine Comedy features most of the symptoms, including cataplexy. In the middle of his journey through Hell, for instance, Dante hears the tragic love story of two lost spirits and collapses. ‘I fainted out of pity, and, as if l were dying, fell, as a dead body falls.’

“The idea that Dante suffered from narcolepsy is certainly intriguing, but most sleep specialists—including Plazzi—date the first unequivocal description of cataplexy to 1877, when German psychiatrist Karl Westphal presented a case at a meeting of the Berlin Medical and Psychological Society. [. . .]”   –Henry Nicholls, “Did Dante Alighieri Suffer From a Sleep Disorder?” LitHub (September 7, 2018)

The passage is an excerpt from Nicholls’s 2018 book Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of A Good Night’s Rest.

See also the related discussion from The Guardian, posted here.

Valentino Dress at the Met Gala 2016

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Rachel McAdams in a gold-beaded Valentino dress with lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy.    —US Magazine, May 2, 2016

Contributed by Donatella Stocchi-Perucchio