25 March: Dantedì

“Il Consiglio dei ministri, su proposta del ministro per i Beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo, Dario Franceschini, ha approvato la direttiva che istituisce per il 25 marzo la giornata nazionale dedicata a Dante Alighieri. ‘Ogni anno, il 25 marzo, data che gli studiosi riconoscono come inizio del viaggio nell’aldilà della Divina Commedia, si celebrerà il Dantedì. Una giornata per ricordare in tutta Italia e nel mondo il genio di Dante con moltissime iniziative che vedranno un forte coinvolgimento delle scuole, degli studenti e delle istituzioni culturali.’

“‘A un anno dalle celebrazioni dei 700 anni dalla morte di Dante’ – ha aggiunto Franceschini –  ‘sono già tanti i progetti al vaglio del Comitato per le celebrazioni presieduto dal prof. Carlo Ossola. Dante’ – ha concluso Franceschini – ‘ricorda molte cose che ci tengono insieme: Dante è l’unità del Paese, Dante è la lingua italiana, Dante è l’idea stessa di Italia.'”   –“Dante Alighieri entra in calendario: il 25 marzo sarà ‘Dantedì,'” La Repubblica (17 gennaio 2020)

Contributed by Ludovica Valentini (Florida State University, MA ’18)

Enrico Castelli Gattinara, Come Dante può salvarti la vita (Giunti, 2019)

Enrico-Castelli-Gattinara-Come-Dante-puo-salvarti-la-vita-2019“Nell’era dell’effetto Dunning-Kruger, quella distorsione per cui chi meno sa più crede di sapere, è bello scoprire che invece ci sono stati casi – e tanti – in cui sapere, ricordare, rievocare ha fatto letteralmente la differenza tra vivere o morire, tra fortuna e miseria, tra resistenza e disperazione. E non il conoscere pratiche estreme di sopravvivenza, ma il fatto di riportare alla mente il brano di un grande classico imparato a memoria ai tempi della scuola, di sapere come posare le dita su uno strumento musicale, di riuscire a immaginare un dipinto o poter scattare una fotografia, di comprendere, se non interpretare, un’opera teatrale. Il fatto di avere l’opportunità di accedere alla cultura. Sì, alla cultura. Enrico Castelli Gattinara tutti i giorni deve trovare il modo per convincere i suoi ragazzi che conoscere serve. E quando loro sbuffano alla richiesta di imparare qualche verso di Dante a memoria, comincia a raccontare loro la storia di un uomo che grazie a quelle terzine è sopravvissuto al campo di concentramento.”    — Giunti catalog

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

World’s Best Bar 2019: New York’s “Dante” Wins Top Spot

“New York’s Dante reached cocktail paradise tonight when it was named World’s Best Bar at the 2019 Spirited Awards in New Orleans during this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. The bar, which opened in 2015 in what was once a famous Greenwich Village coffee house, Caffe Dante, was also named Best American Restaurant Bar for the second time in three years (which, under the rules of the Spirited Awards, means it is now retired from the the category). Among the American bars, Dante beat out local competitor Gramercy Tavern, Houston’s Better Luck Tomorrow, and Louisville’s Silver Dollar.

“The awards ceremony was introduced by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston, who just launched a mezcal called Dos Hombres with his Breaking Bad costar Aaron Paul. ‘People suggested we call it Methcal,’ Cranston joked in his welcoming remarks. Earlier in the week, the two actors were slinging drinks at New Orleans’ iconic Napoleon House and Cranston, who admitted how much more respect he now has for bartenders, confessed that he endured two non-lethal injuries during his three-hour shift—cuts on his hands from the cocktail shakers.” […]    –Karla Alindahao, Forbes, July 20, 2019

Galway 2020: Poet Rita Ann Higgins compares it to Dante’s Inferno

“Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins has said her city has left it ‘too late’ to appoint a new artistic director for its controversial European capital of culture 2020 project, and should set up a team of artists to provide a creative lead instead.

“Ms Higgins, who is a member of Aosdána, has also called on the Galway 2020 board to ‘take the project by the scruff of the neck and come out fighting.’

“The poet has compared the project’s current state to the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno in a new piece of work she has published this week.

“The poem, entitled ‘Capital of Cock-a-Leekie Inferno (9 circles of 2020 Hell)’, tracks the course of the project since Galway secured the European capital of culture designation in 2016, and focuses on recent funding cuts to artistic groups accepted for the bid book.” […]    –Lorna Siggins, Irish Times, October 17, 2018

Dante’s Last Laugh

“Dante Alighieri will forever be associated with Florence, city of his birth and the dialect he helped elevate such that it would one day become the basis of Italy’s national language. Yet when Dante died nearly 700 years ago this week, Florence isn’t where he ended up.

“The story of how Dante’s remains came to be in Ravenna isn’t that complicated. It’s how they came to stay there that gets strange.

“When the poet died, sometime between September 13-14th, 1321, he hadn’t seen Florence for some 20 years. Exiled for life after finding himself on the losing side of a war for control of the city, Dante spent the next several years roaming, defiantly refusing conditional offers to return home on terms he saw as unjust.” [. . .]   — Jessica Phelan, The Local, September 14, 2018

Dante’s Tour of Hell

“All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

“That’s the inscription on the gate to Hell in one of the first English translations of The Divine Comedy, by Henry Francis Cary, in 1814. You probably know it as the less tongue-twisting ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here,’ which is the epigraph for Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, hangs as a warning above the entrance to the Disney theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean, appears in the videogame World of Warcraft, and has been repurposed as a lyric by The Gaslight Anthem.

“But it’s just one line of the 14,233 that make up The Divine Comedy, the three-part epic poem published in 1320 by Florentine bureaucrat turned visionary storyteller Dante Alighieri. Literary ambition seems to have been with Dante, born in 1265, from early in life when he wished to become a pharmacist. In late 13th-century Florence, books were sold in apothecaries, a testament to the common notion that words on paper or parchment could affect minds with their ideas as much as any drug.” […]    –Christian Blauvelt, BBC, June 5, 2018

Descendants of Lu Xun, Dante boost Sino-Italy cultural exchange

“The descendants of Chinese writer Lu Xun and Italian poet Dante Alighieri held a dialogue in Shanghai on Thursday in a bid to boost cultural exchanges between China and Europe.

“The trans-time-and-space dialogue between Lu (1881-1936), the “father of modern Chinese literature,” and Dante (1265-1321) was held at the Shanghai International Studies University in Hongkou District, where Lu spent the last decade of his life.

“Zhou Lingfei, the grandson of Lu, whose real name was Zhou Shuren, and Sperello Di Serego Alighieri, the 19th generation grandson of Dante, discussed the contributions and common features of their ancestors’ works.” […]    –Yang Jian, Shine, April 27, 2018