Gregory Bellow, “Crises of the Spirit: Dante and Bellow”

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In an essay entitled “Crises of the Spirit: Dante and Bellow,” Gregory Bellow, oldest son of Saul Bellow and author of Saul Bellow’s Heart: A Son’s Memoir, compares three of his father’s novels to Dante’s three canticles. “Crises of the Spirit” parallels the pilgrim’s psycho-spiritual crisis and recovery with those of Bellow’s characters, and with the novelist’s own biography. Using private anecdotes and personal recollections, Gregory Bellow traces his father’s mid-life “crisis of spirit” through the Dantean themes of evil, spiritual cleansing, and love.

A PDF copy of the essay is available here, with permission of the author.

Susan Jihrad, Dickens’ Inferno (2013)

jhirad“This book is a fascinating and original insight into two authors who have inspired us for centuries. Perhaps unique among world authors, Dickens and Dante create comprehensive moral systems still strikingly relevant in today’s world, filled with greed, religious hypocrisy, fraud, violence and war. At the same time their compelling characters can still move us to tears and laughter. By dropping them into their appropriate circles of Dante’s Inferno, Professor Jhirad delves deeply into Dickens’ villains in a way that is both scholarly and accessible to the average reader. Additional chapters on Dickens’ Purgatory and Paradise add richness to the book.”  —Amazon

Deborah Parker and Mark Parker, Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown (2013)

Deborah Parker and Mark Parker, Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown (2013)“Using Dan Brown’s book as a jumping off point, Inferno Revealed will provide readers of Brown’s Inferno with an engaging introduction to Dante and his world. Much like the books on Leonardo that followed the release of the Da Vinci Code, this book will provide readers with more information about the ever-intriguing Dante. Specifically, Inferno Revealed explores how Dante made himself the protagonist of The Divine Comedy, something no other epic poet has done, a move for which the ramifications have not yet been fully explored. The mysteries and puzzles that arise from Dante’s choice to personalize the epic, along with his affinity for his local surroundings and how that affects his depiction of the places, Church, and politics in the poem are considered–along with what this reveals about Brown’s own usage of the work.
The authors will focus on and analyze how Dan Brown has repurposed Inferno in his newest book–noting what he gets right and what errors are made when he does not. Of course, Dan Brown is not the first author to base his work on Dante. The Comedy has elicited many adaptations from major canonical writers such as Milton and Keats to popular adaptations like David Fincher’s Se7en and Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice– all of which will be discussed in detail within Inferno Revealed.”    —Amazon

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“In this sneak peek into Inferno, Dan Brown’s brand new novel, Interpreting Dan Brown’s Inferno will provide readers with an engaging introduction to Dante and his world—and the ways in which Brown has repurposed Dante’s famous work in his newest Robert Langdon novel. This teaser explores the Prologue and first chapter of Inferno and details to the reader what important facts—and mistakes—they should be aware of while beginning Brown’s book. The connection between the Prologue’s narrator, aptly named “the Shade,” and Langdon is exposed, and the characters are even further illuminated by their relationship to Dante’s poem.  The reader will come away with an understanding of what Dante’s poem can reveal about these characters and the mystifying city of Florence—and perhaps, where the rest of the book may lead.”    —Amazon

“The Classics as the Antidote to Modern Malaise”

dreyfus-and-kelly-all-things-shining“. . . Though brief, this is an ambitious book, offering insightful readings of authors including Homer, Dante, Descartes and Kant, as well as the novelists Herman Melville and David Foster Wallace. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly believe that great books are the ‘gathering places’ where the major forces of a culture are focused, and so they are able to chart our descent from Homer’s gratitude before many gods to Wallace’s paralysis before a plethora of choices. . .
Great books are there to reconnect us. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly admire Dante’s focus on the saving power of various forms of desire, but find that his ultimate emphasis on the overwhelming bliss of contemplating God ‘makes all other earthly joys irrelevant.’ Dante’s achievement turns out to be ‘not the answer to nihilism but another step in its direction.’ Similarly, the philosophical focus after Descartes and Kant is on the autonomous self as the basis for knowledge, but the authors explore how the idea of a human subject able to bestow meaning on inert objects winds up undermining our openness to the world.” [. . .]    –Michael Roth, The New York Times, January 3, 2011