“Through Me To Everlasting Pain You Go”

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“A monumental mix of dark and epic classical music based on Dante’s Inferno from The Divine Comedy to accompany you in your journey through the circles of hell, including Ludwig Van Beethoven, Stravinsky and Penderecki.”    — Moontopmountain, 8tracks, 2013.

“Dante and The Divine Comedy: He took us on a tour of Hell”

“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.

“And what an addiction The Divine Comedy inspired: a literary work endlessly adapted, pinched from, referenced and remixed, inspiring painters and sculptors for centuries. More than the authors of the Bible itself, Dante provided us with the vision of Hell that remains with us and has been painted by Botticelli and Blake, Delacroix and Dalí, turned into sculpture by Rodin – whose The Kiss depicts Dante’s damned lovers Paolo and Francesca – and illustrated in the pages of X-Men comics by John Romita. Jorge Luis Borges said The Divine Comedy is ‘the best book literature has ever achieved’, while TS Eliot summed up its influence thus: ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.’ Perhaps the epigraph to The Divine Comedy itself should be ‘Gather inspiration all ye who enter here.’

“But it’s not just as a fountainhead of inspiration for writers and visual artists that The Divine Comedy reigns supreme – this is the work that enshrined what we think of as the Italian language and advanced the idea of the author as a singular creative voice with a vision powerful enough to stand alongside Holy Scripture, a notion that paved the way for the Renaissance, for the Reformation after that and finally for the secular humanism that dominates intellectual discourse today. You may have never read a single line of The Divine Comedy, and yet you’ve been influenced by it.”   –Christian Blauvelt, BBC, 2018

Read the full article here.

“Where Did Our Ideas About Hell Originate?”

“The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell in an interview attracted wide attention. This isn’t surprising, since the belief in an afterlife, where the virtuous are rewarded with a place in heaven and the wicked are punished in hell, is a core teaching of Christianity.

“So what is the Christian idea of hell?

[. . .]

“Perhaps the most fulsome description of hell was offered by the Italian poet Dante at the beginning of the 14th century in the first section of his ‘Divine Comedy.’ Here the souls of the damned are punished with tortures matching their sins. Gluttons lie in freezing pools of garbage, while murderers thrash in a river of boiling blood.”   –Joanne M. Pierce, Sojourners, 2018

Read the full article here.

“(Almost) Everything I Know About Hell I Learned From Buffy

“Almost everything I know about hell’s eschatological aspects I learned from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer — sort of an interactive Divine Comedy. Valley-girl Buffy Summers and her Virgil (embodied by tweedy professor Rupert Giles) battle soulless creatures that slither out of the ‘hell mouth’ (conveniently located under the high school), returning the creatures to blazing torment forever.

“I would feel bad about this pop theological education, except I’m not alone.

“For 700 years, Dante’s epic poem — mainly the Inferno — has been the source of inspiration for preachers, pastors, and not a few theologians, who promoted hell as a physical place with its own address, zip code, and smoking embers. Add to their oratorical brimstone the fiery images from artists — Gustave Doré, Hieronymous Bosch, or Buffy producer Joss Whedon — and you’ve got a potent pedagogy.”   –Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners, 2015

Read the full article here.

Hyperallgeric: “Why is Dante the Florentine still present with us 700 years after his death?”

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“Recognition of the poem’s importance began very early. The first man to write a commentary on The Divine Comedy was Dante’s eldest son, Jacopo. A full exegesis of the work came several decades later. There are 800 early manuscripts of the poem in existence

“It is in some of these that we begin to see the different ways in which artists responded to this often dense and difficult text, with its multiple layers of meaning. First we spot small illustrations of the poem’s principal characters at the beginning of each hand-scribed canto. A little later, scenes from the poem begin to appear in churches, on frescoes by Luca Signorelli in Orvieto Cathedral (c. 1500), for example.

“The most important visual interpreters of the poem were three: Sandro Botticelli, who lived in the 16th century, William Blake, and Gustave Doré, both of whom lived in the 19th: a Florentine (like Dante himself), an Englishman, and a Frenchman.” [. . .]    –Michael Glover, Hyperallergic, February 13, 2021.

 

“How the Passion of Hannibal Lecter Inspired a New Opera About Dante”

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“When you hear the name Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a few things spring to mind—and none of them are likely to involve Italian poet Dante Alighieri or opera. Of course there’s good reason for this, with Lecter’s exotic cooking ingredients superseding his gentler affectations. But even so, when author Thomas Harris first imagined how the character might move in the wild for the novel Hannibal, it was with baroque glee he unleashed the doctor in Florence: Italy’s Renaissance city and Dante’s medieval stomping grounds.

“Director Ridley Scott similarly understood that secret recipe. His film version of Hannibal relishes every Italian colonnade Anthony Hopkins walks under, or the way the shadow of the statue of David casts darkness on its star’s face, often as he stands in the same spot where men were hanged or immolated centuries ago. In its better moments, Scott’s movie savors that this is a story about a devil who covets the divine; it delights in playing like an opera.

“Hence for the picture’s best sequence, the filmmakers commissioned a new ‘mini-opera,’ one that would for the first time put music to verses that Dante wrote more than 700 years ago. And in the decades since the movie’s release, those fleeting  minutes of music have blossomed into a real, full-fledged opera about to have its world premiere. Once again the doctor’s distinct tastes and influences appear singular within the realm of movie monsters.” [. . .]    –David Crow, Den of Geek, February 17, 2021.

A Divina Comedia (1991)

Released in 1991, the Portuguese drama film A Divina Comèdia was written and directed by Manoel de Oliveira.

Robert Schwentke, dir. R.I.P.D. (2013)


“There are many descriptions of the afterlife in fiction that can be traced back to Dante’s imaginative journeys. The wacky afterlife universe depicted in the 2013 movie R.I.P.D (Rest in Peace Department) can’t shake off the legacy.

“When a Boston police officer is killed by his renegade partner, he is immediately whizzed up to a questionable Heaven where he discovers that everyone has to answer for past crimes in the thereafter – or join R.I.P.D, Inferno’s police force. The task of the R.I.P.D is to catch ‘Deadoes’, the souls of the deceased who refuse to accept their fate and instead return to the world of the living in order to spoil it.

“The ascent to where R.I.P.D resides is a helical ride for the recently departed, a cocktail of two shots of Inferno, half a Purgatorio and one of Paradiso.  Sitting under the department of ‘Eternal Affairs’, R.I.P.D is run by a chief, half Virgil, half Minos, whose role is to give the new recruit a tour of the establishment. The movie seems to suggest that if you’re not simply visiting Hell (like Dante the pilgrim), then you’re either a convict or an (infernal) law-enforcement officer, whose job is to keep the damned away from the living.

“Dante’s circles of Hell are alluded to in the prison cells of the R.I.P.D precincts and in its staff’s crammed offices. Hell is other people working in the next R.I.P.D cubicle.”    –Cristian Ispir

Will Brewbaker on Shane McCrae’s “Sometimes I Never Suffered”

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“This act of holding together both heaven and earth pervades Shane McCrae’s Sometimes I Never Suffered, the prolific poet’s latest collection. Racial injustice, economic inequality, simple human cruelty — McCrae addresses all of these subjects, these facts of the world, head-on — while, like Dante, transposing the literal into the otherworldly.  [. . .]

“The final two poems in Sometimes I Never Suffered return explicitly to Dantean territory. Famously, the last word in each section of Dante’s Comedy is the Italian word ‘stelle,’ meaning ‘stars.’ In a sly parallel, McCrae makes this Limber’s last word, too. After describing meeting one of those souls who were ‘babies when they died […] [who] walk around in sailor hats with blank / Looks on their faces’ — another ingenious creation — Limber says:

… when I tried to talk to
Him it was like I wasn’t there
So    I peeked    in his mouth

and in his mouth was the whole sky and stars

“Not only does this final line offer a remarkably coherent cosmic scope, but it also serves as a segue into the book’s last movement — a multipage poem that returns to the hastily assembled angel’s story and finds the angel first building, then climbing the ladder to heaven.” [. . .]    —Will Brewbaker, Los Angeles Review of Books, October 13, 2020.

Read more of Brewbaker’s reviews here.

G-Dragon, “Divina Commedia” (2017)

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“The end of hardship Divina Commedia…”

Click on the image above to access the lyric music video, released in 2017, on Youtube.