Natsume Sōseki, The Miner (1908)

“Where Murakami’s introduction starts to go astray, however, is in his assumption that Sōseki’s chief ambition is to describe the mine as an entity in and of itself. Indeed Murakami believes Sōseki pretended to be uninterested in the young man’s personal experiences to avoid confronting ‘a major social problem head-on.’

“Murakami has the equation backward: Sōseki’s main objective was not to describe a mine but to present a modern-day vision of hell, and the mine was a convenient way of doing so. Sōseki is always interested in universal themes that transcend the here and now, and certainly the intensely personal, in order to work on a deeper level. In The Miner he digs deep down into human psychology itself.

“The descent into hell is a recurrent Sōseki theme. In his first piece of fiction, the 1905 story ‘Rondon To’ (‘The Tower of London’), his protagonist crosses the river Thames — recast as the River Styx — and passes under a portal, imagining he can find there Dante’s famous words from Inferno, as translated Henry Francis Cary, ‘All hope abandon, ye who enter here.’ Sōseki’s first vision of hell was achieved by summoning up the ghosts of those who had been murdered or executed in the Tower of London. Sōseki explicitly links The Miner with ‘The Tower of London’ in numerous subtle ways, describing the young protagonist of The Miner as undergoing ‘degeneration’ as he descends into the mine in reference to Max Nordau’s 1892 theory of degeneration, highlighted at the beginning of ‘The Tower of London.’”   –Damian Flanagan, “Natsume Sōseki goes back to hell in The Miner,” The Japan Times (October 24, 2015)

See also our post on Sōseki’s 1912 novel The Wayfarer.

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (Florida State University BA ’20, MA ’22)

Dante at the Innovation in Music Conference

“The annual Innovation In Music conference in London recently saw Audinate’s Dante help deliver a first of its kind performance, according to audio engineer Dr Paul Ferguson.

“The conference is an international music event that brings together researchers and professionals  shaping the future of the music industry. The event welcomes academics, artists, producers, engineers, music industry professionals, and manufacturers to come together and hear presentations and discussions on a wide range of topics. The most recent conference was held at the University of West London’s Ealing Campus and covered a number of topics including music production, performance and composition, studio technology innovation, and platforms for music sale, streaming and broadcast, to name a few.

[. . .]

“‘Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus has brought a new perspective to performing, and for gigging musicians, this GPS clock capability potentially allows musicians to safely connect and collaborate over hundreds of miles,’ added Ferguson. ‘What happens when artists want to do their next album or collaborate with others? Until our work lives return to normal, this presents an excellent, next-best-thing-to-being-there option. And even after the ban is lifted, this will be an economical and efficient way to bring creativity together over great distances.'”    –Daniel Gumble, Installation, June 9, 2020

In this case, the reference is to DANTE, the AV networking protocol (Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet). The acronym and the image of the circles (as well as some of the marketing around Audinate’s Dante and related products) play on the name and fame of the poet.

Mark Vernon’s Podcast Dante’s Divine Comedy (2020)

“This year, 2020, marks the 700th anniversary of the completion of the great Divine Comedy. I invite you to experience the odyssey, too, by accompanying me as I discuss each canto.

“Dante begins his journey by waking up in a dark wood. The air tastes bitter. He becomes fearful. Truth is out of reach. But his crisis is a turning point.

“Many today, too, are waking up to something that’s gone wrong. We’re in a spiritual crisis. We must see the world afresh and understand. I believe Dante can help us discover how.

“I’ll post reflections on two or more cantos each week as we reach for the highest heavens. Follow every step of the way on YouTube [. . .] or via the podcast, Dante’s Divine Comedy.”  — Mark Vernon

33 violins and a cello in honor of Dante

Leonardo Frigo is producing 33 violins, each with an illustration of 33 canti of Inferno (Cantos 2-34) , and a cello with Inf. 1, in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death in 2021.    –Alessandro Allocca, La Repubblica, Jan. 20, 2020

Contributed by Alessandra Mazzocchi (Florida State University, ‘MA 2019)

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.