“Sophie Giacomelli (1779-1819) is the earliest known female illustrator of Dante. Her engravings were published in 1813 – some years after John Flaxman’s ground-breaking, privately printed, neo-classical outline illustrations in 1793. Giacomelli has patently imitated the style but her Divine Comedie has undoubtable unique approaches, as this engraving of The Simonists (Canto XIX, Inferno) demonstrate. The popes are plunged head down into infernal holes so that only their flaming feet are seen. But it’s how this illustrator has captured Dante’s occasional ‘scaredy-cat’ episodes by having him caught in the arms of his strong and protective guide, Virgil. Giacomelli was also known as Billet (father’s name), Janinet (her stepfather’s name) and Madame Chomel. I’ve not been able to find information on this last name – which may have been a stage-name (she sang as well, after meeting up with her musician husband, Joseph Giacomelli). She was, by the briefest accounts available, a most impressive woman and it was many decades before another female had her Dante designs published. She is very rarely mentioned in Dante illustration.” –Emma Marigliano
“I made Surviving Me because I found from my own experience as an undergrad, that the pressure on our college campuses for women to be hypersexual is damaging to everyone. During my college years in post 9-11 NYC, the world around me stopped making sense and the social scene was full of chaos and escapism, yet in my Medieval poetry class I was reading themes that related to present day. My peers were testing the limits of defying convention regarding sexuality and traditional relationship values, asserting that being liberated meant you were superior to consequences. However, I had the feeling that I had fallen into the River Styx and was swiftly sinking to the bottom. In order to find solid ground, I had to fight for boundaries and integrity and I brought my battle into writing the script. Dante’s Inferno was a constant companion with its focus on behavior and consequences, and Surviving Me became a reflective creative journey.” –Director’s Statement from Press Notes, Leah Yananton
The 2015 film was directed and written by Leah Yananton and released by Longtale Films. Contributor Alan R. Perry notes that the film is laced throughout with indirect references to Inferno, and the story line is accompanied by Blake’s watercolors, as is also visible in the movie poster at left.
Contributed by Alan R. Perry (Gettysburg College)
“The point can’t be made often or forcefully enough: getting Dante straight means getting him gay, as well. When it comes to the sex or gender of the people we love best, Dante doesn’t give a fig. This is something that Dreher and other serious readers of Dante ought to know.” — Guy Raffa, “What Rod Dreher Ought to Know about Dante and Same-Sex Love,” Pop Matters