Australian Painter Garry Shead Finds Divine Inspiration in Dante

“Gregorian chants play softly and a curl of incense drifts high into the air at Garry Shead’s studio in Bundeena on the coast of the Royal National Park.

“For almost five months, Shead, one of Australia’s best-known figurative painters, has been grappling with a new series based on Dante Alighieri’s poem, The Divine Comedy. Invoking the spirit of the 700-year-old poet has been “terribly difficult”. He grimaces as he recalls stepping up to the blank canvas every morning, regardless of whether he felt like it or not.” […]    –Ali Gripper, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 12, 2014

 

The SEC vs. Cryptocurrency: From Dante to Facebook

“The Securities and Exchange Commission, the multibillion dollar agency that safeguards investors, presently stands on the precipice of the layer Dante reserved for the indecisive. For, nearly a decade after Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2010, there has been no concrete attempt at delineating purchaser from investor in the cryptocurrency market—indeed, it appears the agency is content to provide guidance regarding fraud and custody rather than defining products and attendant responsibilities for those soliciting funds for digital conversion.

“In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri forever shaped our vision of a retributive afterlife with his Divine Comedy. Tellingly, the first “level of hell” introduced therein was populated by those who could not decide (‘those who lived without occasion for infamy or praise’); to the celebrated Renaissance poet, those habiting the sidelines of history could hope for limbo, at best, in the final judgment.” […]    –J. Scott Colesanti, New York Law Journal, July 31, 2019

Dante’s Divine Comedy: A journey without end, by Ian Thomson

“IAN THOMSON is a travel writer, and here he attempts the most ambitious journey of all in the company of Dante — ‘to hell and back’, as he puts it in his heading to the introduction. He is well aware that the Divine Comedy was written a long time ago, in medieval Italian, and in a world remote in many of its assumptions from those that he expects his readers to share; so he sets about providing a bridge to take them there.

“His second chapter is a biography of Dante, set in the context of the warfare of Guelfs and Ghibellines in Dante’s Florence, which he sketches with a knowledgeable eye on modern Italian politics. There follows an exploration of the Beatrice story and the place that she — or the idea of her — played in Dante’s emotional and intellectual development as he grew up, and became a poet. Then come chapters on the explosive Florentine political scene where the young Dante was worsted, and from which he went into exile.” […]    –G.R. Evans, Church Times, November 30, 2018

Reviewed: Dante’s Divine Comedy by Ian Thomson

“Ian Thomson’s eclectic and erudite romp through the work of Dante Alighieri – born in Florence in 1265, died in Ravenna in 1321 – features sharp observations and piquant elucidations concerning Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) and its author.

“Thomson sets the tone from the off, beginning with an amusing epigraph which ran in Private Eye in December 2017, a `Very Late News’ about how the 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri and how he would be glad to see the back of that year, saying  ‘Phew, I’ve been trapped in this circle of hell for so long, I can’t wait to get out of it.’

“As for the matter in hand, this welcome book – whose subtitle is A Journey Without End  – is no skit, despite the Private Eye reference. Dorothy L Sayers offers a more relevant reflection on the work of the great Florentine in another epigraph to the work. ‘To understand Dante is not, of course, necessary to believe what he believed, but it is, I think, necessary to understand what he believed.’

“There have been myriad translations in English of Divina Commedia including a recent offering from Clive James, which appears to have won some and lost some fans – a quote from Ciaran Carson’s version is favoured instead for the back cover.” […]    –Paddy Kehoe, RTE, January 14, 2019

Tina Turner: By the Book

“What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

‘In 2017, my kidneys were failing and I went through a prolonged period of dialysis. Every time I went to the clinic, I brought the same three books with me: The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra, The Divine Comedy, by Dante, and a book of photography by the extraordinary Horst P. Horst. I needed something for the spirit, something for the intellect and something for the senses, and the ritual of studying the same books while I was undergoing treatment was comforting to me because it imposed order on a situation I couldn’t otherwise control.’

“You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

‘I like a dinner party to be a lively mixture of different kinds of people — young, old and everything in between. So my first choice would be Dante — after all my years of studying The Divine Comedy, I need to ask him a lot of questions! I could be his Beatrice! Since I can’t choose between Anne Rice and Stephen King, I’d set places for both of them. Their books have kept me awake for many a night because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good scare! And I’d definitely serve Thai food, because I like things spicy.’ ” […]    –Jillian Tamaki, The New York Times, October 18, 2018

Extracts from Alasdair Gray’s New Translation of Dante

“DANTE writes that at the age of 35, exactly half way through the 70 years the Bible tells us is the span of human life, he found himself lost in a dark wood, and that his way out was barred by three fierce animals – a leopard, a lion and a wolf. The wood is a symbol for the state of sin in which Dante believed himself to have fallen, and the animals may be specific sins – lust, arrogance and avarice, although the meanings are disputed.

“As Dante flounders about, he is approached by a shadow who turns out to be Virgil, the great poet of ancient Rome, who tells him he has been dispatched by saints in heaven to aid him. Virgil will be Dante’s ‘Guide, Lord and Master,’ as Alasdair Gray puts it. The only passable route will take him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, where he will end up before the throne of God.” […]    –Alasdair Gray and Joseph Farrell, The National, October 7, 2018

The 9 Circles of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy based in Malta

“A lot of people are familiar with Dante’s Divine Comedy. A great masterpiece written by a guy who was either really creative or was really high.

The Divine Comedy tells the story of Dante as he travels through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in order to find both God and his dead girlfriend Beatrice.

“Anyway, this guy stumbles upon the deceased poet Virgil who was kind of just chilling about. These two walk around the woods for some time until they come upon the gates of hell, which state ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ which should totally be Tigne Point’s car park’s slogan, but whatever.

“Here are the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy reimagined in Malta.” […]    –ChiaraM, Lovin Malta, August 10, 2018

Review of “Caroline’s Bikini”: a Modern-Day Mash-Up of Dante, Milton and Metafiction

“Writing a book review about a novel that is about a book reviewer writing a novel, and that references the act of novel writing, often in footnotes, is the self-reflexive task of appraising Kirsty Gunn’s latest offering. A modern-day mash-up of Milton, metafiction and Dante, and of Renaissance swooning in Richmond, Caroline’s Bikini questions myth and reality through an exploration of the nature of fiction and the projection of love.

“Courtly love is the fabric on which this modern story is sewn. The book includes sections of Il Canzoniere, a sonnet sequence written by Petrarch after having fallen in love with a 14-year-old girl exiting a church. The 14th-century poet wrote yearningly about her for a period of 40 years without ever meeting her.” […]    –Rebecca Swirsky, New Statesman, June 27, 2018