“Dante Inspires Us to Follow Our Own Path”

“The Italian government has designated March 25 as ‘Dantedi,’ a day set aside to honor and pay tribute to Dante Alighieri, ‘Il Sommo Poeta’ (‘The Supreme Poet’). According to scholars, Dante’s journey to Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, which he recounted in his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy began on March 25 (his travels in the afterlife began during Easter week in they year 1300).

This year, 2020, commemorates the 700th anniversary of the completion of the Divine Comedy, Unfortunately, Dante died in 1321, some 150 years before the Divine Comedy was published.

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‘Dantedi’ reflects the spirit of the Fourth Canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil’s welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo: ‘L’ombra sua torna, ch’era dipartita’ (‘His spirit, which has left us, returns’). Indeed, ‘Dantedi’ is an opportunity for us to welcome Dante’s spirit back to our society – a spirit that encompasses innovation, imagination, inspiration, and intensity. Taken together, those ‘4-i’s’ are the essential ingredients for hope and a brighter future for ourselves and our posterity. And, perhaps, embracing those ‘4-i’s’ will help us to find a way to get through the current global health crisis – to stop this dreaded illness that continues to inflict our world.

Dante’s lesson to all of us: “Segui il tuo corso e lascia dir le gente” (“Follow your own road and let people talk”). Basically, Dante is telling us to follow our own star – to walk our own unique path. And, when things become challenging, Dante reminds us that ‘The path to Paradise begins in Hell.'”    –Hudson Reporter Reader, Hudson Reporter, March 15, 2020

Teodolinda Barolini interview in Corriere della Sera (May 2020)

In May 2020, Paolo di Stefano interviewed Teodolinda Barolini for the Corriere della Sera, on how and why to read Dante in the 21st century. Below, an excerpt from the interview, which can be read in full here:

Corriere: “Secondo lei quale aspetto di Dante può affascinare di più un lettore giovane del nostro tempo?”

Barolini: “Il fatto che Dante è un uomo che ha voglia di capire, come Ulisse. Mentre Virgilio nel II libro dell’Eneide squalifica Ulisse come fraudolento, Dante trova il lato positivo di Ulisse in Orazio e soprattutto in quella bellissima espressione di Cicerone che, nel De finibus, definisce la sua discendi cupiditas. Il Convivio comincia con la frase di Aristotele: ‘Tutti li uomini naturalmente desiderano di sapere.’ Ecco, è la brama di sapere il vero motore di Dante.”

Corriere: “Come leggere Dante a scuola?”

Barolini: “Il modo più utile è prendere il testo alla lettera. Basterebbe far leggere ai ragazzi il racconto, avendo fiducia nella narratività della Commedia. Io mi dispero quando arrivo a Petrarca per far capire ai giovani quanto siano squisite quelle poesie, questo sì è un problema. Ma non ci si può disperare di fronte alla Commedia che è un grande motore narrativo che trascina tutti con sé.”   — “Dante, un ribelle. Ora leggiamolo.” Interview of Teodolinda Barolini by Paolo di Stefano. Corriere della Sera (May 31, 2020)

Alison Cornish and Stefano Albertini on Dantedì 2020

In recognition of the first annual Dantedì (March 25, 2020), the director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Stefano Albertini, interviewed Alison Cornish, Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU and Acting President of the Dante Society of America. They conducted the interview virtually, during shelter-at-home orders resulting from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on her experience teaching Purgatorio during the pandemic, Cornish comments that Purgatorio is “about community after traumatic separation” (7:34), a community that is recreated through shared cultural rites like liturgy and song, forms of virtual embrace, and collective suffering.

The interview is available to view on YouTube (last accessed April 10, 2020). The comments on Purgatorio can be heard at 6:00-15:34.