“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum (May-August, 2012)

getty-museum-images-of-death-in-the-middle-ages“Denise Poncher before a Vision of Death”
Master of the Chronique scandaleuse
French, about 1500
Tempera colors, ink, and gold on parchment
5 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.
MS. 109, FOL. 156
“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum

See also: film screenings

The New Yorker’s “Nine Circles of Heaven”

Contributed by Leslie Zarker Morgan

Justin Cartwright, “To Heaven by Water” (2009)

justin-cartwright-to-heaven-by-water-2009“In the two-page prologue to Justin Cartwright’s new novel, To Heaven by Water, two brothers, ‘no longer young,’ are sitting by a campfire in the Kalahari Desert. The elder is smoking dope and reciting Gerard Manley Hopkins’s tongue-twisting, syntax-bending sonnet ‘The Windhover’: ‘I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon. . . .’ (This can’t be very good weed he’s smoking, since he makes it through all 14 lines without losing his way.) In response, the younger ‘feels a rushing, unstoppable love’ for him, which he expresses by mouthing the conclusion of the Divine Comedy: L’amor che muove il sole e l’altre stelle. (Cartwright goes on to translate for us, though such a familiar line needs Englishing far less than Hopkins does.) The scene ends with Cartwright’s own image of the stars, ‘implausibly bright, scattered carelessly like lustrous seed across the southern sky.'” [. . .]    –David Gates, The New York Times, August 13, 2009

The 7th Heaven


Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2007, p. A2 (retrieved on January 15, 2008)

Contributed by Ruth Caldwell

Christian Anthony, “And Everything In Between” (2006)


“In his video short, Christian Anthony has appropriated film and television clips creating a collage of images and scenes describing the afterlife. These fragments, taken from the last several decades, emphasize the tension between the media-driven, pop culture representations of heaven, hell and purgatory and people’s personal perceptions of these concepts. Anthony’s portrait of the collective afterlife is at times comic, violent and wicked as it tosses up stereotypes, self-righteousness and fear.”    —San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Watch the video here.

“The End of Limbo”

st-peters-rome-the-end-of-limbo“The Vatican announced on Friday the results of a papal investigation of the concept of limbo. Church doctrine now states that unbaptized babies can go to heaven instead of getting stuck somewhere between heaven and hell” [. . .]    –Michelle Tsai, Slate, April 23, 2007

Contributed by Zac Milner (Bowdoin, ’07)

Beatrice in “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

beatrice-in-a-series-of-unfortunate-eventsBeatrice is the name of a mysterious character in the children’s book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Beatrice does not appear in the main series, though she is often mentioned by the narrator as a lost love and, according to Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, is the reason Snicket started writing the Baudelaires’ story. A 2006 spin-off book, The Beatrice Letters, sheds light on her story.
She is thought by many to be named for Beatrice Portinari, the beloved of the poet Dante, who spurned him and then died young. He devoted his Divine Comedy to her, and in it she figures as his muse and personal saviour. She arranges for his journey through the afterlife and guides him through heaven.” (retrieved on Dec 12, 2006)

Contributed by Kate Moon (Bowdoin, ’09)