How dancer Anuradha Venkataraman interpreted Dante through the Mahabharata

“When dancer Anuradha Venkataraman opted for a residency program with Instabili Vaganti, an Italian theatre company, she would have never expected that it would one day give her a chance to interpret one of Dante’s classics through the Mahabharata.

“A classical dancer for almost 25 years, Bengaluru-based Anuradha Venkataraman had been looking at ways to expand on language of Bharatanatyam for years. . . ‘to go beyond the traditional margams.’ [. . .].”   –Ruth Dhanaraj, The Hindu, March 24, 2021

Vasuki Shastry, Asia’s 8 Circles of Hell

“Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Shastry takes readers on a journey through modern Asia’s eight circles of hell where we encounter urban cowboys and cowgirls fleeing rural areas to live in increasingly uninhabitable cities, disadvantaged teenage girls unable to meet their aspirations due to social strictures, internal mutiny, messy geopolitics from the rise of China, and a political and business class whose interests are in conflict with a majority of the population. Shastry challenges conventional thinking about Asia’s place in the world and the book is essential reading for those with an interest in the continent’s future.”    –From the book description, Amazon

“Why Dante, 700 years later, is still a hell of a journey,” Hindustani Times

A brief overview of Dante’s influence and impact on the arts and on people all over the world, and notes our own Dante Today:

[…] “The poem’s influences are so wide and far-ranging that three American universities have collaborated on a website to keep track of them all. Since 2006, Dante Today has been archiving every present-day reference to the poem, through “sightings” and “citings”. They’re pretty thorough, even adding a hot-sauce brand called 10th Circle to their archive last month.” […]    –Rachel Lopez, Hindustani Times, February 20, 2021

“What Happens When a Writer Hates the Heroine of Her New Book?” Excerpt from Nisha Susan’s The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories

“In her second week at the library, she was choked. Somewhere in this building, she had been told, is an actual manuscript of the Divine Comedy. Dante Alighieri had not sat around in the 1300s writing coy shit. Somewhere near here, Arun Kolatkar had written Jejuri and the Kala Ghoda poems. Somewhere near here, Kolatkar had died. Where in her writing was the blood, the grime, the puking on the streets and the deep stuff?”    –Nisha Susan, excerpt from The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories, Huffington Post, August 10, 2020

“NSUI pays Tributes to Nasir Khan”

“NSUI and Congress state president Kuldeep Rathore paid tributes to student leader Nasir Khan on his 32nd death anniversary on Tuesday. The office-bearers and workers of the Congress, the Youth Congress and the NSUI wore black bands and observed a two-minute silence. Khan was assaulted in his hostel at Himachal Pradesh University, and was fatally injured. He died at the PGI on this day in 1988, and ever since the NSUI observes August 11 as ‘black day’.

[. . .]

A session on ‘The Writer’s Choice’ was organised by Belletristic, the literature society of the Department of English, at Shoolini University. Renowned Indian poet and author Keki Daruwalla spoke about Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Cantos of Inferno and also read out some of his own poems. He had imagined his recent Naishapur to Babylon, published in 2018, to be his last poetry book, but the pandemic-induced lockdown compelled him to write verse again. Prof Manju Jaidka, HoD, said this had helped re-discover the classics of literature, spread awareness and love for literature, particularly among youngsters, who have strayed away from books and authors because of many distractions.”    —The Tribune, August 12, 2020

“Dante Alighieri and the World”

“There was the endeavour to untangle knots — truth and lie, sin and redemption, piety and lust. There was always the goal to risk all for truth. Take this tercet from Dante Alighieri:

‘When truth looks like a lie,
a man’s to blame
Not to sit still, if he can, and
hold his tongue,
Or he’ll only cover his
innocent head with shame.’

“Scribes and great TV anchors, who can give a spin to any development, should heed the lines. We need to take sides when truth stares you in the face. In Canto III, some angels did not take sides when Satan revolted, but timorously sat on the fence. They were placed lock, stock and barrel in Hell. The colourless mediocrities most of us are, get short shrift. He talks about the ‘sorry souls who won neither praise nor blame for the lives they led’. Of course, the first words we learnt of Dante’s Inferno, as students, were ‘All hope abandon, ye who enter here’, the inscription on the gates of Hell. During the lockdown, I thought that the three translations of Dante I possess should be put to good use. One hoards books and never reads them, though 20 years back I had read Dorothy Sayers’ fine translation of Inferno my father had left me. Michael Palme’s translation is better. What Dante did was mind-boggling. The entire European civilisation was placed before the reader, from Greek legends onwards. You have a full canto on the Dis, which is his word for the underworld. The river Lethe, Acheron the boatman who herds the souls who drop: ‘So from the bank there one by one drop all… As drops the falcon to the falconer’s call.’ The eighth circle gets flatterers (half our political parties would be in trouble, praising the 8 pm lockdowns, or the two-line denunciations by Rahul G). There are also soothsayers in the same circle (good grief, our Chandraswamis with red tilaks and rudraksh malas!). Actually, you can’t honestly exclude we Indians from any inferno you can devise.”    –Keki Daruwalla, The Tribune, August 2, 2020

Bikini Shopping and the Seven (Hundred) Circles of Hell

“For every advance that women have made in the past eight decades, there has been a commensurate annual knockback in the guise of that supposedly carefree and liberating item, the bikini. Compare Thirties swimwear with today’s. Admittedly, the old kind took days to dry – probably never completely reaching peak aridity during an average British summer – while today’s versions wick away moisture in seconds. But is that such a big gain, when Modern Bikini makes such bullying demands on body and mind?”    —The New Indian Express, June 18, 2016

Jaipal Reddy — Congressman who quoted Dante, Kant & called politicians ‘wild animals’

“New Delhi: Think of a minister who can publicly say politicians are ‘wild animals’ who need to be kept in check. Probably none today, not after former union minister S. Jaipal Reddy passed away Sunday morning.

“Many of his colleagues remember his witty remarks — often blended with quotes ranging from Italian poet Dante and German philosopher Immanuel Kant to English playwright William Shakespeare and many more. But the cerebral politician was equally known for his convictions.” […]    –D.K. Singh, The Print, July 28, 2019

Circles of Hell: A Novel by Bonomali Goswami (India, 1991)

“It was a night of beauty and a night of terror. The deep blue sky was thickly constellated and after a long, sweltering day a balmy breeze was now blowing down the green soggy land. The sharp, stiff leaves on the bamboo thickets were aquiver with delight and yet the scented air seemed to be charged with a nameless fear.” — Bonomali Goswami, Circles of Hell: A Novel, 1991

Preview more and purchase the novel here.

circles-of-hell-book-1991

10th Circle: Sycophants on Social Media

“If Dante would be alive today and visited India, he would have added a tenth circle of Inferno (hell) in his famous poem, Divine Comedy, and assigned it to Sycophancy on the Social Web. He wouldn’t have to resort to allegory, it is all over Facebook, Twitter and comment boxes on blogs, for everyone to see…
“Sycophancy is defined as the overly fawning behaviour of a suck-up. A sycophant is a person who attempts to win favour at the cost of his own pride, principles, and peer respect…
“Dante would have been certainly shocked by the new fad of thoughtless hero worship in India’s IT hubs, universities and urban hang outs where the youth of the country are subjected to and fall victim for modern propaganda. Dante would have been surprised at the idiots, despite having a degree or two can’t apply the least bit of logic or discerning to what they are told by the media, politicians and the rest of the carpet baggers.” — cited from Sreedhar Pillai on Lasting Rose, July 16, 2013