Classic Serial: Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy

BBC Radio 4’s Classic Serial program offers a reading of the Divine Comedy by professional actors, as well as a few behind-the-scenes clips on the making of the radio program.

“Blake Ritson, David Warner and John Hurt star in Stephen Wyatt’s dramatization of Dante’s epic poem – the story of one man’s incredible journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.”     –BBC Radio 4, Classic Serial, 2019.

You can see more of the Classic Serial episodes and behind-the-scenes extras on the BBC Radio 4 site.

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

“Circles of Hell… A Dysfunctional Family Tree of British Cinematic Misery”

Film Comment 47.6 (November/December 2011), pp. 40-41

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Dante’s Inferno: Too Darn Hot in Derby Trial

“The outstanding two-year-old of 2018 gets his first chance to show if he can be the outstanding three-year-old of 2019. We are set to learn plenty but one thing is clear – Too Darn Hot is returning in one darn hot Dante.

“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unbeaten son of Dubawi spent the winter dominating the 2,000 Guineas market after ending his juvenile season with the same Racing Post Rating posted by the mighty Frankel as a two-year-old. However, the runaway Dewhurst Stakes winner failed to make the Newmarket Classic.

“Instead, he makes a belated return as clear favourite for a wonderfully exciting Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes – but no longer as favourite for the Investec Derby.” […]    –Lee Mottershead and David Jennings, Racing Post, May 16, 2019

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

From Dante to “I Love Dick”: 10 books about Unrequited Love

“Katherine Mansfield’s exquisite long short story At the Bay, Beryl, a middle-aged woman still fantasising about the young girl she once was and the lovers she could have captured then, stands in a darkened room half-imagining someone is out there in the dark, desiring her. So much of fiction is about desire, a yearning of some kind or another … the love of reading itself a sort of intense affair.

“These thoughts and more were whirling around in my mind when I wrote my own novel about unrequited love, Caroline’s Bikini, the story of middle-aged Evan’s great love for his landlady, the desirable but always just out of reach Caroline Beresford.

“The Divine Comedy by Dante- Dante follows hard on his heels, of course, and was writing before him – his Divine Comedy a kind of early novel, as I think of it, in three parts, that was inspired by a similar kind of experience. Dante never knew his Beatrice either, yet the idea of her propelled his great work about visiting Hell and Purgatory and Heaven, to be met there by her: another fantasy made true in words.” […]    –Kirsty Gunn, The Guardian, June 27, 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

Review: Matthew Pearl’s “The Dante Chamber”

“In The Dante Chamber, Matthew Pearl’s new thriller — a sequel of sorts to his 2003 bestseller The Dante Club — murder takes a literary turn. Sparked by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the crimes are solved by a crack team of poets and painters: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson and the American doctor-poet-essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes (not to be confused with his son and namesake, the great Supreme Court justice).

“The murders take place in London in 1870. In the first murder, a member of Parliament is killed in a London park; a massive stone has inexplicably been tied around his neck and broken it. Soon thereafter an attractive woman dies on a London street; her eyelids have been sewn shut.

“Gabriel Rossetti, who was in the park during the first murder, disappears. His sister and friends fear for his safety, even as the police suspect he was the killer. Gabriel is fond of opiates and given to erratic behavior. When his wife died he impulsively had all his unpublished poems buried with her. Later, to the horror of many, he had them dug up.” […]    –Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post, June 1, 2018

Dante Festival: Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius win Yorkshire Cup

“It’s horses like Stradivarius that help to keep Frankie Dettori young – and racegoers demanding a flying dismount after every big race success.

“Now 47, and the fifth winning-most Flat jockey of all-time, no one is better on the big stage and, once again, he did not disappoint on the Knavesmire.

“And Dettori harbours hopes of landing the Ascot Gold Cup after conjuring a winning tune out of Stradivarius in yesterday’s Yorkshire Cup.

“The final day highlight of York’s Dante meeting, Dettori treated his opponents with near contempt as he won this prestigious prize for a fifth time.” […]    –Tom Richmond, Yorkshire Post, May 18, 2018

IKEA Parking likened to ‘Dante’s Circles of Hell’

“Shoppers at IKEA Reading have reached breaking point.

“One reviewer even went so far as to liken the car park to Dante’s inferno.

“It is absolutely dreadful! Hopeless, mind-numbingly diabolically worse than one of Dante’s circles of hell.” […]    –Khadija Taboada, InYourArea, April 14, 2018