Review: Matthew Pearl’s “The Dante Chamber”

“In The Dante Chamber, Matthew Pearl’s new thriller — a sequel of sorts to his 2003 bestseller The Dante Club — murder takes a literary turn. Sparked by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the crimes are solved by a crack team of poets and painters: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson and the American doctor-poet-essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes (not to be confused with his son and namesake, the great Supreme Court justice).

“The murders take place in London in 1870. In the first murder, a member of Parliament is killed in a London park; a massive stone has inexplicably been tied around his neck and broken it. Soon thereafter an attractive woman dies on a London street; her eyelids have been sewn shut.

“Gabriel Rossetti, who was in the park during the first murder, disappears. His sister and friends fear for his safety, even as the police suspect he was the killer. Gabriel is fond of opiates and given to erratic behavior. When his wife died he impulsively had all his unpublished poems buried with her. Later, to the horror of many, he had them dug up.” […]    –Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post, June 1, 2018

Dante’s millions

“As I write, the London world championship is tied at 3½-3½, after seven games. In striving to move ahead, the challenger, Fabiano Caruana, has been the victim of the awesome mathematics of chess. According to the statisticians there are more possible moves in chess games than there are atoms in the observable universe. Ten to the power of 70 is the official estimate. As someone with a good Italian name and ancestry, Fabiano may be familiar with Dante’s Paradiso. In Canto 28 the poet writes: ‘Ed eran tante, che ‘l numero loro, Piu che ‘l doppiar de li scacchi s’inmilla.’ In other words, the number of angels or intelligences in the heavens far exceeds the immense number created by placing a piece of corn on the first square of the chessboard and doubling each time until square 64 is reached. The number of grains on this square alone will be 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 and the total number of grains on the chessboard will be 36,893,488,147,419,103,231.” […]    –Raymond Keene, The Spectator, November 24, 2018

Tenth Circle Record Label

Tenth-Circle-Record-Label-2011“With a focus squarely on the more underground elements of house, techno and electronica, Tenth Circle will be bringing previously unknown names to the attention of the dance music community in 2011 and beyond.” — cited from Tenth Circle’s Soundcloud page

Learn more about the London-based record label on their Soundcloud, Facebook, and Youtube.

Alexander McQueen’s 1996 Show Dante

inferno-book-alexander-mcqueen-1996“Taking place at Christ Church in Spitalfields (Isabella Blow was obsessed with the idea that it’s architect, Nicholas Hawksmoor, was a Satanist), Alexander McQueen’s 1996 show Dante was a controversial comment on religion, war and innocence that mixed crucifixes with corsets and had models sticking their tongues out in church. It was a show that McQueen himself, as well as many others, have referenced over and over again, but without the phenomenon of social media, backstage shots never made it into the public eye. In a new book Inferno: Alexander McQueen, published by Laurence King, exclusive, never-before-seen photographs front and backstage are revealed for the very first time. These will be published alongside rare interviews with Lee’s friends, peers and colleagues, and includes contributions from Suzy Menkes, Katy England, Andrew Groves (McQueen’s partner at the time), as well as the models, stylists and designers who helped create the dramatic show.” — Felicity Kinsella for i-D on vice.com

Dante’s Inferno: A Modern Telling, by Craft Theatre (2015)

Craft-Theatre-Dantes-Inferno-A-Modern-Retelling

“‘For the people tired of the same money generating schemes on the West End. For the people who crave different kinds of honesty from their theatre. For the people who have never connected to any theatre. For the people who search. For the people who question. For the people who struggle. For the 99%.’ These are the bold and powerful claims that Rocky Rodriguez Jr. makes in his director’s note for Dante’s Inferno: A Modern Telling. Staged in the warehouse-like Rag Factory, we meet Dante who is unfulfilled, demoralised and trapped in the rat race, and what’s more he can see no means of escaping his nihilistic existence. Craft Theatre intersperses Dante Alighieri’s original text with sections penned by John Cage, Rocky Rodriguez Jr, and the ever topical Russell Brand. This modern day retelling of Dante’s suffering and quest for redemption still feels as applicable to present day society as when Dante first wrote it, if not more so.” — Review by Ruby-isla Cera-Marle, A Younger Theatre (January 21, 2015)

Learn more at the Craft Theatre Blog.

The Divine Comedy, Barons Court Theatre (2017)

Dantes-Divine-Comedy-Barons-Court-Theatre“It’s Dante lite, but the adaptation hasn’t diminished the spirit of the original nor the theological arguments although it’s cut them down a bit. Sometimes, to speed thing up they revert  to modern dialogue and fruity language with a few  witty touches. We know when they’ve arrived in purgatory as there’s underground station sign, and when they set off for Paradise they go on the underground, strap hanging and swaying as they sing and wonder what awaits them there.

“It’s an ambitious undertaking in limited surroundings with only sticks and chairs for props, but it’s the genius use of lighting and shadows that really carries it off. An angel sprouts wings, a balloon become a head and speaks, and with some cardboard cut outs one of the sinners gets eaten by dogs. Later, instead of crossing the River Styx, Dante is carried through space with impressive use of what looks like footage from the Hubble Telescope and/or the International Space Station.” — Hammersmith Today review

Presented by So It Goes Theatre.

Read an interview with Artistic Director Douglas Baker here.

 

 

DANTEmag

DANTEmagDANTEmag,” based out of London, claims to be “the first international magazine with an Italian soul.” Most of the articles featured on the news and culture magazine relate to Dante in some way.

Explore the magazine online here.

Alexander McQueen’s “Dante” Collection, 1996

alexander-mcqueen-dante-collection-1996“McQueen’s theatrical ‘Dante’ collection was staged at a church in Spitalfields in 1996. The show opened with organ music filling the church that was soon drowned out by gunfire. Models walked the runway looking wearing wore crucifix masks, denim splashed with bleach and lots of lace. McQueen commented that the collection was ‘not so much about death, but the awareness that it’s there’.”    —The Concept of Fashion, December 20, 2011

Some of the pieces from this 1996 collection have been included in the “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!” (2014) exhibition in London. To learn more about the London show, see “In London, Fashion History Up Close.”

Hypo Chrysos: Xth Sense Technology

marco-donnarumma-hypo-chrysosHypo Chrysos (HC) is a work of action art for vexed body and biophysical media. During this twenty minutes action I pull two concrete blocks in a circle. My motion is oppressively constant. I have to force myself into accepting the pain until the action is ended. The increasing strain of my corporeal tissues produces continuous bioacoustic signals. The sound of the blood flow, muscle contraction bursts, and bone crackling are amplified, distorted, and played back through eight loudspeakers using the biophysical instrument Xth Sense, developed by the author. The same bioacoustic data stream excites an OpenGL-generated swarm of virtual entities, lights, and organic forms diffused by a video projector. The work brings together different media so a as to creatively explore the processes wherein self-perception, effort, and physicality collide. HC is freely inspired by the sixth Bolgia of Dante’s Inferno, located in one of the lowest of the circles of hell. Here, the poet encounters the hypocrites walking along wearing gilded cloaks filled with lead. It was Dante’s punishment for the falsity hidden behind their behaviour; a malicious use of reason which he considered unique to human beings.” [. . .]    —Marco Donnarumma

Hell’s Half Acre, Lazarides Gallery London, October 12-17, 2010

hells-half-acre-lazarides-gallery-london-2010“Dante: no other medieval author continues to exert such an extraordinary force on the modern imagination. Those who’ve read his Comedia never recover; those who’ve never read him still feel like they know the Inferno, and because it has become such a cultural norm, they probably do know it. At Cambridge, Prof. Robin Kirkpatrick has been undertaking a massive critical and creative engagement with Dante over the past couple of years in a project entitled Performance, as well as a conference at CRASSH entitled Pain in Performance and ‘Moving Beauty’. This year, on October 30th, Performance 2010 will further explore Dante and other texts in a series of performances, music, dance, art and drawings.” [. . .]    —Miglior Acque, October 22, 2010

Contributed by Patrick Molloy