“Mafia boss reads Dante Alighieri in prison”

mafia-boss-reads-dante-alighieri-in-prison“Bernardo Provenzano, the former Godfather of the Sicilian Mafia who is serving life in prison, is spending his time reading Dante and writing to a pen pal. . . ‘I have read the Inferno,’ he wrote. ‘And especially where it says that on life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost.’ The former boss of all the bosses–who ordered the assassination of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, a pair of anti-Mafia investigators–told Bonavota that ‘when reason and force collide, force wins and reason is lacking.'” [. . .]    –Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph, January 28, 2008

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

“The Close Reader: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime”

the-new-york-times-homepage

“If sheer cultural influence is the measure of greatness, though, Dante Alighieri should probably rank higher than Shakespeare, since Dante dreamed up something that, sadly, has had even more impact than depth psychology. He invented the infernal. Dante’s ‘Inferno’ gave us our first glimpse of a universe we once again inhabit: a topography of graphic, gruesome suffering. The Dante scholar John Freccero might have been talking about Kosovo or Rwanda or any other post-genocidal landscape when he wrote, ‘The ruined portals and fallen bridges of Hell are emblems of the failure of all bonds among the souls who might once have been members of the human community.'” [. . .]    –Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times, March 9, 2003

“Rome Journal; An Inferno of Vehicles Expands a City’s Circle of Suffering”

rome-journal-an-inferno-of-vehicles-expands-a-citys-circle-of-suffering“On a remarkably pleasant night in early August, Patrizia Dolcini, a 44-year-old hotel worker, was jolted from her sleep by a series of violent explosions just outside her first-floor bedroom window in one of Rome’s most upscale areas.
Ms. Dolcini ran outside, where others were gathering, as a frightening scene unfolded: more than a dozen parked motor scooters had burst into flames, transforming an entire intersection into an inferno. The blaze engulfed a nearby tree and leapt five stories in the air. Black smoke billowed above this city’s fairy-tale skyline. From a few blocks away, there came another explosion. Then, from a different direction, another.” [. . .]    –Brian Wingfeld, The New York Times, September 5, 2005

“Hannibal” (Ridley Scott, 2001)

hannibal-ridley-scott-2001Hannibal is set in Florence where the notorius Hannibal Lecter is posing as a medievalist and Dante scholar. He lectures on the Divine Comedy and recites poetry from the Vita nuova, as well as attends an operatic adaptation of the Vita nuova. Apart from these explicit references to Dante, there is also a sense in which the homicidal methods he employs mirror, contrapasso like, the sins of his victims, all of whom are in some sense bad. The noble folk, Starling and a nurse, are spared, despite HL’s ample oppourtunities to kill them. It is difficult to equate any of the movie’s characters with those of the Divine Comedy, although Lector does in a sense play Virgil to Starling’s pilgrim; but in his role as avenger of evil, serial killer, HL appears more like the wrathful Old Testament God.”    –Peter Schwindt

For a compilation of references to Dante in the film, see the post on the website greatdante.net.

Contributed by Peter Schwindt