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

Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Journey Without End by Ian Thomson (Review)

“None of us today would have heard of Beatrice di Portinari had Dante, Italy’s greatest poet, not decided to retain the suggestive name (‘Beatrice’ signifies blessings) of a Florentine girl whom he conveniently first met at the age of nine – forms of three represent the Trinity in The Divine Comedy’s innovative terza rima – as his celestial Guide. Beatrice takes over from Virgil. No pagan, however distinguished, may enter Dante’s paradise. Beatrice is the initially reproachful (‘What right had you to climb the mountain?’) but eventually redemptive spirit who draws the purified poet into the heart of the eternal rose within which, in the bliss-filled closing lines of The Divine Comedy, Dante himself becomes annihilated and immortalised.” [. . .]    –Miranda Seymour, The Guardian, August 12, 2018

The Circles of Hell on a Trip to Mount Bromo (Indonesia)

Mount-Bromo-Indonesia-Ninth-Circle-Dantes-Inferno“Mount Bromo is located at about 4 hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, in Indonesia and it is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It is considered one of the top bucket list destinations in Indonesia, one of the places to visit in Indonesia. I suppose it deserves to be one of them.

“You see, I am an atheist and hardly a believer that heaven and hell exist. Yet, if I have to describe my experience in Mount Bromo, the first thing that comes to my mind are the Nine Circles of Hell of Dante’s Inferno. Much like Dante’s journey through hell, accompanied by his guide Virgil, I felt that I was also going through the nine circles, although in my case there was no real guide in sight but just other members of the tour group.” — Claudia Tavani, “Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell? Crossing Dante’s Inferno on Mount Bromo,” My Adventures Across the World, November 10, 2015

Read more about Tavani’s adventure on Mount Bromo here.

Charles Patterson, In Dante’s Footsteps: My Journey to Hell

“This modern divine comedy, based on the original Divine Comedy that Dante wrote 700 years ago, tells the story of Tom Reed and how his early interest in Dante inspired him to make his own viaggio (journey) to the Underworld.

“After describing Tom’s church upbringing and his joining, then leaving the church, the story continues in the Underworld (a.k.a. Hell) with a cast of characters Dante never could have imagined: Tanya, the CEO; Umberto, the Guest Master; Rachel, a young Dante scholar from Berkeley; visitors from China, India, Kenya, and Germany; and famous people in history woken up from the Big Nap for a ‘Great Minds and Personalities’ conference attended by such greats as Socrates, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Einstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Groucho Marx. Tom also visits his father who’s in a ‘Purgatory precinct’ and talks to Hashem, his ‘wife’ Naomi, and somebody called Satan who wears a cowboy hat and walks with a swagger.

“The climax of Tom’s viaggio is his visit to the Crusaders who used to be in charge because he wants to include them in the book he plans to write that could make him the next Dante. However, because the Crusaders disapprove of his being a ‘defrocked priest,’ when he arrives, they withdraw their invitation and put him on trial.” — Charles Patterson, Press Release

The Returno to the Inferno by Luigi Enrico Pietra D’Oro (2018)

The Returno to the Inferno by Luigi Enrico Pietra D’Oro (Lewis Goldstein) is a book-length epic poem that follows up on Dante’s Inferno with an original, modern discourse (written entirely in rhymed poetry, the same structure Dante used for his original) about what hell is really about in current times—and it’s closer to home than you think. Luigi is now older and less tolerant of the misery and loneliness he sees in our modern, crowded world. And who would be better to help Luigi see the world for what it really is than Robin Williams (or what’s left of him after his own private hell…). The journey of hellish comedy continues with cameo appearances of other laughter-inducing luminaries and even a popular talk-show host whose guest is no other than Satan—who’s not too shabby as a guest, actually. There are great historical figures, as well, who are fittingly housed with the criminally insane, and just rewards for corporate leaders, religious clergy (topped by a lively Pope, for example, who awaits Luigi in Purgatory), politicians and the good old NRA. The journey is portrayed on a large canvas with vivid scenes and clever dialogue, and for a willing reader who cares to suspend disbelief and accept the surreal as real, there’s a richness here that’s unique and memorable. In summary, as with his previous books, the author manages to simultaneously induce bursts of uncontrollable laughter and bouts of unconventional self-reflection. An exceptional book!” — The Editorial Board of the Columbia Review of Books & Film

The book is available on Amazon.

Contributed by Lewis Goldstein

Daily Dante Blog

“Welcome to Daily Dante, a blogging adventure that follows the pilgrim Dante through his journey to hell and back, as we savor the poet Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy.

Daily-Dante-Lenten-Spiritual-Discipline-BlogDaily Dante is a collaborative blog, written by a motley band of Dantophiles living in the Princeton, NJ area. We began during Lent of 2010, when we adopted blogging as a Lenten discipline: a canto a day (excepting Sundays, which technically do not count as Lent), which conveniently allowed us to finish more or less just before Easter. We have completed Inferno, and Purgatorio, and finished blogging through Paradiso during Lent 2012.” — homepage of Daily Dante: Dante as Lenten Spiritual Discipline

 

Anton Brzezinski, “Anton’s Inferno: Dante’s Inferno Revisited” (2008)

Untitled“Surrealist painter Anton Brzezinski takes us on a modern journey through Hell. This time the poet Virgil is replaced by his one time neighbor in New York, the writer William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch. Well known for his Sci Fi illustrations and surrealisms, Anton Brzezinski is a versatile artist who creates in a number of media. Currently he’s completing a feature length video called Adventures of the Living Dali. Anton’s Inferno was written at the same time he created a complex 38 inch by 50 inch oil painting of the same name. This novelette is a sometimes irreverent satire. He cautions if you’re easily offended, please give this to someone with a sense of humor.”  —Amazon

Ron Bassilian and Jim Wheelock, Inferno Los Angeles (2015)

INFERNOlosAngelesCOV“Over 700 years ago, the poet Dante Alighieri found his way to the Underworld from the dark wood outside his native Florence, and the adventure he recorded in The Inferno still haunts us to this day.

“Now, in modern times, a new traveler finds his gateway to Hell beneath the urban jungle of the “City of Angels.” Inferno Los Angeles revisits Dante’s journey, weaving new characters and contemporary scenarios with the timelessly familiar scenes Dante described. It is an adventure of pure imagination, fraught with obstacles, monsters, horrific visions and prophecies — all visualized in an epic graphic style. Journey with him, as each step down this human whirlpool brings new dangers and monstrosities, as we delve ever deeper into the torments of our own minds.

INFERNO LOS ANGELES is a 136 page, full color graphic novel published in a deluxe over-sized hardcover edition by NeoClassics Press.”    —Inferno Los Angeles

 

“My First Pumpkin Spice Latte: A Journey”

pumpkin-spice-latte-Dante-Virgil-People“Then I waited. For a total of two minutes, I stood at the end of the counter and maintained eye contact with the jug of ‘Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce’ that happened to be sitting behind the ledge. ‘Tell me your secrets, magical chalice of spicy pumpkin secretions. What exactly are you?’ I asked the jug with my eyes, like Dante seeking help from Virgil.” –Kelli Bender, “My First Pumpkin Spice Latte: A Journey,” People Magazine

Contributed by Victoria Williams (University of Delaware, ’19)

Zander Cannon, Heck (2013)

HeckZander Cannon‘s graphic novel Heck narrates the journey of two travelers through nine circles of the underworld.

“After the funeral of his estranged father, faded hometown hero Hector ‘Heck’ Hammarskjöld finds himself the new owner of the old man’s house… and inside it, a portal to the underworld! With few other prospects on the horizon, Heck goes into business settling inheritance disputes by contacting the recently deceased, accompanied by his faithful sidekick Elliot. But when an old flame knocks on their door with an important message for her late husband, Heck and Elliot embark on a terrifying journey down into the nine circles, braving the horrors of Hell for an assignment that will reveal more than they ever imagined.”    — Top Shelf Productions

Contributed by Jacob de Heer-Erpelding (Bowdoin, ’15)