Purg. 2, Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini for “Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time”

“Dante has just arrived in Purgatory and runs into an old friend — but finds he cannot embrace him. The souls in this canto share a moment of nostalgia for their earthly life and affections when Dante’s friend Casella sings one of Dante’s canzoni, a poem about love. Alison Cornish and Leonardo Chiarantini explore this canto’s relationship to life in a pandemic: the experience of moving into a new state of being, with new laws, where community must be forged in new ways; the importance of thinking globally, communicating across time-zones; the longing for and the strangeness of a simple hug between friends. Lock-down is its own kind of purgatory. Every day, there are failed embraces.” But, like Dante, we move forward.”    –Katherine Travers

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

#stoacasacondante, Flashmob in honor of Dantedì 2020

The Società Dante Alighieri promoted a flashmob on the first annual celebration of Dantedì (25 March 2020), while Italy and much of the world was under shelter-in-place orders due to the spread of COVID-19. Below, the message from the President of the Società Dante Alighieri, Andrea Riccardi:

“mentre il coronavirus ci tiene separati dai luoghi e dalle persone che amiamo, l’Amore e Dante ci uniscono. La Società Dante Alighieri invita tutti ad aprire le finestre delle proprie case, a leggere due terzine del V Canto dell’Inferno (Divina Commedia), a registrare le letture con gli smartphone e a condividere i video nei social network con hashtag #stoacasacondante e #Dantedì.

“Ecco il testo da leggere: «Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende, prese costui de la bella persona che mi fu tolta; e ‘l modo ancor m’offende. Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona, mi prese del costui piacer sì forte, che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona».”  —ladante.it

For news coverage, click here.

Paolo and Francesca Necklace

“The story of Paolo and Francesca, two lovers entwined in an eternal whirlwind, was first told in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and has been the inspiration for countless classical artworks ever since.”    —NET-A-PORTER

Teatro delle Albe’s fedeli d’Amore (2018)

fedeli d’Amore (Love’s faithful) is a ‘polyptych in seven panels’ written by Marco Martinelli ‘about’ Dante Alighieri and our present day. Different voices speak to us in the individual panels: the fog of a dawn in 1321, the demon of the pit where the merchants of death are punished, a donkey that carried the poet on his last journey, the ‘scolding’ imp who incites brawls about money, Italy kicking herself, Alighieri’s daughter Antonia, and ‘an end that is not an end’.

“These voices speak to us of the refugee, of the poet fled from his own city which has condemned him to burning at the stake; and now he is on his deathbed, exiled in Ravenna, sick with ague. First the fog slips in through the window cracks, enters that little room, and it describes him on the threshold of the extreme transition. Those voices are suspended between the fourteenth century and our own day, and Martinelli’s writing accepts, and not from today, the Dantesque challenge to hold together political and metaphysical ‘reality’, chronicle and spirituality.

Love is evoked as the polestar of the fedeli d’Amore, a force that frees humanity from violence, that saves ‘the garden plot that renders us so fierce’. The voices of this ‘polyptych’ are one single voice that can contain numberless voices, that of Ermanna Montanari: air, fire, sound, matter.

“This ‘polyptych’ for the stage enriches the itinerary which, together with Ravenna Festival, Martinelli, Montanari and Teatro delle Albe began in 2017 with Inferno, and which will continue in 2019 and 2021 with the other two parts of The Divine Comedy.

“fedeli d’Amore is one more tessera in their ceaseless dramaturgical, vocal, musical and visual research, alongside such wise folk as Luigi Ceccarelli and Marco Olivieri, Anusc Castiglioni and Simone Marzocchi; and it lies in that furrow where the vocal-sound alchemy of the figure is central.” [. . .]    —Teatro delle Albe, 2018.

Debuting on June 15, 2018, fedeli d’Amore was devised and directed by Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari, and produced by Teatro delle Albe/Ravenna Teatro in collaboration with Fondazione Campania dei Festival – Napoli Teatro Festival Italia 2018 (progetto cofinanaziato da POC Campania 2014-2020) and Teatro Alighieri-Ravenna.

Read more about the details of the production at Teatro delle Albe.

Relatedly, Teatro delle Albe staged L’inferno delle Albe, which you can read about here.

“Ivresse” by Pablo Neruda

“Hoy que danza en mi cuerpo la pasión de Paolo
y ebrio de un sueño alegre mi corazón se agita:
hoy que sé la alegría de ser libre y ser solo
como el pistilo de una margarita infinita:

“oh mujer -carne y sueño-, ven a encantarme un poco,
ven a vaciar tus copas de sol en mi camino:
que en mi barco amarillo tiemblen tus senos locos
y ebrios de juventud, que es el más bello vino.

“Es bello porque nosotros lo bebemos
en estos temblorosos vasos de nuestro ser
que nos niegan el goce para que lo gocemos.
Bebamos. Nunca dejemos de beber.

“Nunca, mujer, rayo de luz, pulpa blanca de poma,
suavices la pisada que no te hará sufrir.
Sembremos la llanura antes de arar la loma.
Vivir será primero, después será morir.

“Y después que en la ruta se apaguen nuestras huellas
y en el azul paremos nuestras blancas escalas
-flechas de oro que atajan en vano las estrellas-,
¡oh Francesca, hacia dónde te llevarán mis alas!”

–Pablo Neruda, “Ivresse”, 1904-1973.

Pablo Neruda was a 20th-century Chilean poet. The poem “Ivresse” is a part of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, which you can purchase on Amazon.

From Dante to “I Love Dick”: 10 books about Unrequited Love

“Katherine Mansfield’s exquisite long short story At the Bay, Beryl, a middle-aged woman still fantasising about the young girl she once was and the lovers she could have captured then, stands in a darkened room half-imagining someone is out there in the dark, desiring her. So much of fiction is about desire, a yearning of some kind or another … the love of reading itself a sort of intense affair.

“These thoughts and more were whirling around in my mind when I wrote my own novel about unrequited love, Caroline’s Bikini, the story of middle-aged Evan’s great love for his landlady, the desirable but always just out of reach Caroline Beresford.

“The Divine Comedy by Dante- Dante follows hard on his heels, of course, and was writing before him – his Divine Comedy a kind of early novel, as I think of it, in three parts, that was inspired by a similar kind of experience. Dante never knew his Beatrice either, yet the idea of her propelled his great work about visiting Hell and Purgatory and Heaven, to be met there by her: another fantasy made true in words.” […]    –Kirsty Gunn, The Guardian, June 27, 2018

What Rod Dreher Ought to Know About Dante and Same-Sex Love

“Dante saved my life,” testifies Rod Dreher, senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative, in his recent book, How Dante Can Save Your Life (Simon & Schuster, 2015) about how the poet’s Divine Comedy can save yours as well. His soul-baring account of how Dante Alighieri and two other spiritual guides — a Christian Orthodox priest and an evangelical therapist –helped him escape a dark wood of stress-induced depression and physical illness is smart, moving, and thoroughly engaging. Dreher’s Dante, like Virgil in the poem, does the lion’s share of the guiding, and so earns top billing and occupies most of the narrative’s prime real estate. In showing how the poem brought deeper understanding of himself and his relationships with his father, sister, and God, and in sharing the substance of those life lessons with readers (mostly in appendices to the chapters), the author does not disappoint.

“For those of us who have studied, taught, and written on Dante’s works and their legacy over many years, Dreher’s understanding and use of the Commedia will undoubtedly raise legitimate doubts and objections. However, I found myself more often than not nodding in recognition at his deft discussion of characters, scenes, and themes of the poem. Most of his sharpest points pierce the surface of famous inhabitants of Hell — amorous Francesca, proud Farinata, worldly Brunetto, and megalomaniacal Ulysses are among the highlights; oddly for a book on rescuing lives and souls, he devotes fewer words to the saved individuals in Purgatory and Paradise.” […]    –Guy P. Raffa, Pop Matters, January 21, 2016

Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno

“I’ve seen several references to various social media apps and the Seven Deadly Sins, but as I consider the darkness that seems to breed in social media circles — from teen bullying on Snapchat and Instagram, to Twitter trolls threatening female reporters in India with rape and abuse, to child pornography on the Dark Web and the children who suffer miserably, literally living in hell for predators’ public pleasure — Dante’s Inferno comes to mind, and how this ancient story from 1300 might actually describe our reality right now, as we enter the Information Age of our human development.

[. . .]

“Unfortunately our technology is held hostage by the worst of us. Until we can turn the technology around and use it against those who commit such evil, we can’t get out of the woods. However, Dante and Virgil do make it out of Hell. Interestingly the poets cross through the barren wasteland and to the river of forgetfulness, emerging from Hell on Easter morning.

“I find it interesting that they must forget the darkness in order to leave Hell and make their way to Heaven, where true connection, love and solidarity await. What must we forget in order to fulfill the promise of the Internet and the idea of a globally connected world?

“Our hate? Our jealousy? Our anger? Our fear? Our ignorance? Our greed? Our lust? Our mistrust?

“I imagine so. In the meantime, our experiences online seem to be on one hand accelerating and enabling those who wish to sow the seeds of discontent and on the other hand bringing us together, enabling the collection and sharing of information and knowledge, and making us aware of those places and people in our community who are in need. If we can rid ourselves of our lower natures and focus on the fact that when we’re online, we’re actively creating a world together, perhaps someday we will hold Beatrice in our embrace, and finally find human connection at the deepest, most satisfying level.”    –Nicole Sallak Anderson, “Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno,” Medium, October 25, 2017

Louise Glück, “From a Journal” (2001)

The-Seven-Ages-Louise-Gluck“From a Journal”

I had a lover once,
I had a lover twice,
easily three times I loved.
And in between
my heart reconstructed itself perfectly
like a worm.
And my dreams also reconstructed themselves.

After a time, I realized I was living
a completely idiotic life.
Idiotic, wasted—
And sometime later, you and I
began to correspond, inventing
an entirely new form.

Deep intimacy over great distance!
Keats to Fanny Brawne, Dante to Beatrice—

[. . .]

“From a Journal” is from Louise Glück’s 2001 collection The Seven Ages. It was published by HarperCollins.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University, 2018)

Tasha Mack, Angel & Dante: A Dopeboy Love Story (2017)

Angel+Dante-Tasha-MackWhile the connection to Dante Alighieri isn’t explicit, the pairing of the two protagonists in the novel, Angel and Dante, has a “heaven and hell” resonance to it. Here is the synopsis of the novel, from Amazon.com: “The young, intelligent, & beautiful Angel Harris swore off men after a traumatic experience left her wanting to end her life. She found love in the arms of her new partner, Courtney. Things in the relationship were peaches & cream until Angel crossed paths with Dante Johnson.

“Dante Johnson, better known to the streets as Duke, was one of Atlanta’s most notorious kingpins. Duke was used to having women flock to him and be at his beck and call, until he met Angel. Angel was like a breath of fresh air to him with her charismatic personality and she helped him go escape the drugs, crimes, & promiscuous women in the Atlanta streets. Dante proved that he would do anything to make Angel his, even flaunt her around town with his fiancé Arianne at home.

“Arianne Thomas thinks that she has found her meal ticket out of the hood after she pops up pregnant with Dante’s baby. She is on cloud nine, until she finds out about Dante’s new love interest. Arianne will stop at nothing to protect what she feels is rightfully hers.” — Amazon.com