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)

Grimes’ “Go” Video

grimes-go-video-blood-diamonds-dante-inferno On August 27, 2014, Grimes (Claire Boucher) released a music video for her single “Go” (feat. Blood Diamonds, aka Mike Tucker), providing the viewer with a glimpse into what Grimes perceives as Dante’s modern Hell. Though “abstract” in its composition, Grimes and her brother-turned-fellow-director strategically chose to set the video in various locations representing human carelessness and Hell on Earth. The video casts Grimes as the pilgrim and Blood Diamonds as Virgil, and begins with screenwriter David Hayter (X-Men, Watchmen) reading the opening verses of the poem: “Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.”

See Spin Magazine for Chris Martins’ post on the video, which he calls “a sci-fi homage to Dante’s Inferno.”

See the full video here.grimes-go-video-blood-diamonds-dante-inferno

Contributed by Ryan Alexander (George Mason University, 2016)

Review of Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, Promise Land (2014)

promise-land-jessica-lamb-shapiro-2014“It’s ingrained in human nature to look at ourselves with a weary awareness of all that’s wrong within, and the optimism that someone, somewhere can tell us how to fix it. As Jessica Lamb-Shapiro points out in her ambitious if unfulfilling new memoir-cum-odyssey, Promise Land, we’ve been gobbling up self-help advice for nearly as long as the written word has existed, devouring it in the ancient Egyptian Sebayt writings and the Book of Proverbs. But our contemporary mania for the wisdom of Dr. Phil is different from what generations past gleaned from Epictetus or even Dale Carnegie, and Lamb-Shapiro aims to explain how. Along the way, she’s on a quest to fix herself. Lamb-Shapiro, who has written for The Believer and McSweeney’s, is a witty and enjoyably self-aware writer. She’s certainly a far more entertaining guide through hellish terrain — like a preshow interrogation by a ‘Dr. Oz’ producer — than Dante was given.” [. . .]    –Mary Elizabeth Williams, The New York Times, January 3, 2014

Italian Commuting

italian-comuting-tim-parks   tim-parks-italian-ways

“Mr. Parks lives in Milan, where he runs a postgraduate translation program at Istituto Universitario di Lingue Moderne. Living here saves him from the hellish predawn 100-mile commute from Verona, a Dante-esque daily journey that he writes about at the outset of Italian Ways.”    –Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, June 7, 2013

See Tim Parks’ book, Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo (NY: W. W. Norton, 2013)

“Dante to Dead Man Walking: One Reader’s Journey Through the Christian Classics” (2002)

dante-to-dead-man-walking-one-readers-journey-through-the-christian-classics-2002“What do the book of Genesis, the Second Inaugural Address, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X all have in common? According to author Raymond Schroth, they are all works worthy of being called classics of Christian literature. In Dante to Dead Man Walking, Schroth discusses fifty works–from books of the Old Testament to contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction–that challenge the social conscience and raise moral or religious issues in a provocative way.”    —Amazon, May 13, 2012

S.A. Alenthony, “The Infernova” (2009)

sa-alenthony-the-infernova-2009 “S.A. Alenthony’s The Infernova is the new book that. . . [turns] the classic vision of the Christian hell upside-down. Retelling the poem from an atheist’s perspective, the story parallels Dante’s descent through nine infamous circles where increasingly pernicious sinners endure their symbolic punishments. The upper circles house the minor offenders: those who lacked clarity or promoted fallacious arguments. The middle levels incarcerate those who preyed upon-and profited from-irrationality: paranormalists, conspiracy theorists, astrologers, and their ilk. Lower and yet darker realms are reserved for religion’s criminals, such as televangelist-frauds, pedophile-priests, and terrorists, while at the pit’s nadir reside the legions of the world’s prophets and a virtual menagerie of the countless gods born of their imaginations.
Dante was famously accompanied on his journey by his revered hero, the Roman poet Virgil. In The Infernova, it is the satirical and irreligious gadfly Mark Twain who takes the role of guide and companion. As their odyssey continues, the dangers of irrational and mystical thinking grow more clear, and their dialogues and encounters with hell’s residents provide a unique tableau on which to set out the arguments against supernaturalism.”    —Amazon

Gloria Naylor, Linden Hills (1985)

gloria-naylor-linden-hills-1985“Like Amiri Baraka in The Systems of Dante’s Hell (1965), Miss Naylor has adapted Dante’s Inferno to her own fictional purposes – in this instance a tale of lost black souls trapped in the American dream. The setting is Linden Hills, an upper-middle-class black community built on a huge plot of land owned by the mysterious Nedeed family (the locale is not specified). Purchased by Luther Nedeed in 1820 – after he had sold his octoroon wife and six children into slavery and moved from Tupelo, Miss., we are told – the land has remained under the proprietorship of the Nedeeds for more than 150 years. Luther (read Lucifer), as all the males in the Nedeed family are named, opened a funeral parlor, then developed the land and leased sections to black families. His sons and grandsons, all of whom are physical copies of the original landowner, furthered his plan – to establish a showcase black community. That community, as the original Luther says, would not only be an ‘ebony jewel’ representing black achievement, but also ‘a beautiful, black wad of spit right in the white eye of America.'”   –Mel Watkins, “The Circular Driveways of Hell,” New York Times (March 3, 1985)

“Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills follows two young black male poets on their downward journey through a prosperous community built for blacks who aspire to live out a white-patented dream of social advancement. Naylor’s appropriation of Dante’s Inferno as master narrative for this landscape of private torments (a white model for black society) replicates the choice made by Linden Hills itself. The ironies of this are rich and difficult to control: but the attention paid to the sufferings of women in this arrangement adds something quite new to the English-language Dante tradition.”    –David Wallace, “Dante in English,” in Rachel Jacoff’s The Cambridge Companion to Dante, 2007

Virginia Jewiss, “Il Viaggio di Dante: Un’avventura Infernale” (2008)

il-viaggio-di-dante-un-avventura-infernale-2008A children’s book.
Text: Virginia Jewiss
Illustrations: Aline Cantono di Ceva
Idea: Christiana Castenetto
Italian version found on IBS.

An English version is also available: “Dante’s Journey: An Infernal Adventure.”