Dario Crapanzano, Il furto della Divina Commedia (2019)

“Milano 1954, Michele Esposito, preside in un liceo di Città Studi, ha una grande passione: i libri antichi, nei quali investe la maggior parte delle sue entrate. Grazie a un’eredità riesce ad acquistare, per ben quattro milioni di lire, l’incunabolo di una Divina Commedia del Quattrocento. Una copia rara e preziosa che il preside presenta solennemente al corpo docente dell’istituto. Quando, uno dei giorni seguenti, il libro sparisce dalla cassaforte della scuola, a indagare viene chiamato Fausto Lorenzi, un ispettore dagli occhi «di ghiaccio».

“Chi poteva conoscere la combinazione della cassaforte? Molti sono i sospettati: i docenti e anche la storica segretaria, che molti definiscono la vera preside. E quando viene scoperto un omicidio, Lorenzi collega subito il delitto al furto.

“Ma il mistero rimane fitto…

“Nella consueta atmosfera vintage della Milano anni Cinquanta, tra cinema fumosi e antiche librerie antiquarie, Dario Crapanzano costruisce un giallo appassionante e crea, dopo Mario Arrigoni, un nuovo personaggio investigatore, che sorprenderà i lettori e che proverà a risolvere lo strano caso del furto della Divina Commedia.”    — Mondadori

Contributed by Ludovica Valentini (Florida State University, MA ’18)

The Dante Conspiracy (2018) by James Becker

The Dante Conspiracy was written by James Becker and published by Canelo Adventure May 28th, 2018.

“When the body of a poetry professor is found tortured in a deserted barn outside Florence, Inspector Perini is assigned to the case.

“No murder of passion, it is clearly a professional job. When, hours later, thieves break into Dante’s cenotaph, it seems the two crimes may be connected by some missing verses from the Divine Comedy.

“They could contain a code so valuable someone is willing to murder for it. But who? And why? As the bodies pile up, Perini is in a deadly race to find the secret before the killers. The truth will prove more shocking than he could have possibly imagined…” [. . .]    —Amazon

When Seagulls Cry (2007)

Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a Japanese visual novel developed by 07th Expansion. The title translates to When Seagulls Cry in English. The series was released in Japan from 2007-2011, and globally through 2016-2017.

“The story focuses on a group of eighteen people on a secluded island for a period of two days, and the mysterious murders that befall them. Readers are challenged to discern whether the murders were committed by a human or of some other supernatural source, as well as the method and motive behind them.” [. . .]    —Umineko When They Cry, Wikipedia, 2018.

Fans of the series have pointed out several references to Dante’s work in the series, such as these found by readers on MyAnimeList:

“I’ve started reading Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy few days ago and I found several analogies with Umineko.

  1. “Names:
    Beatrice – name of deceased Dante’s love, his guide through Heaven
    Virgil – name of Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatorio
  2. “Structure of Mt. Purgatorio is of the form 2+7+1=9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine ( last – Earthly Paradise). It may resemble 10 twilights of the Witch’s Epitaph.
  3. “Dante meets Beatrice at 10th floor, Battler meets Beato at 10th twilight
  4. “Seven Stakes resemble floors 3rd- 9th of Mt. Purgatorio (each floor represents 1 of 7 deadly sins.)
  5. “Magic circles in Umineko have a same names as the Spheres of Heaven:
    First Sphere of the Moon –> First Circle of the Moon” [. . .]    —Azakus, MyAnimeList, October 11, 2009.

To see more of the Dante references fans of When Seagulls Cry have found, check out the full forum discussion on MyAnimeList.

You can buy When Seagulls Cry and check out other games in the series on Steam.

Contributed by Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

Louis Nero, Il Mistero di Dante (2013)

<em>Il Mistero di Dante</em> PosterIl Mistero di Dante is a 2013 Italian film directed and written by Louis Nero.

“A journey in the footsteps of the most famous initiate of Italian Trecento, the author of the celebrated Divine Comedy. [. . .] Since the 19th century, many important scholars have tried to unfold the mystery hidden behind Dante’s terzine. During this voyage we will try to go one step further in the understanding of this secret. Our direction will be marked by the traces left by some of the most distinguished authorities in the field of the esoteric significance of Dante’s works. [. . .]

“The voice of a mysterious character interpreting Dante’s verses will help us delve into this subject. Two perspectives: the exoteric and the esoteric one.”    —IMDb

“Indagine su Dante Alighieri attraverso una serie di interviste ad intellettuali, artisti, massoni e uomini di fede che hanno il compito di guidare lo spettatore alla scoperta di un lato poco conosciuto del Padre della lingua italiana. L’analisi di passaggi nodali della Divina Commedia, continui riferimenti alla tradizione iniziatica occidentale, alle logge segrete, all’appartenenza o meno del Poeta ai ‘Fedeli d’Amore,’ ci accompagnano nei primi passi verso un approccio diverso ad una materia di studio sconfinata. [. . .]

“Comunque consigliabile a chi è completamente a digiuno del lato esoterico di Alighieri.”    —MyMovies.it

Giulio Leoni, Dante Novels

leoni-medusaFirst in a series of historical thrillers featuring Dante Alighieri as investigator of crimes in 14th century Florence, the other novels are I delitti del mosaico; I delitti della luce; and La crociata delle tenebre.

See Internet Bookshop for more information.

leoni dante

Contributed by Piergiorio Niccolazzini, PNLA Literary Agency

Paul Thigpen, “My Visit to Hell” (2007)

paul-thigpen-my-visit-to-hell-2007“My novel ‘My Visit to Hell‘ (rev. ed, Realms, 2007, originally appeared in 1992 under the title ‘Gehenna’) explicitly borrows the basic story line and what might be called the ‘moral topography of hell’ from Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ but the story begins in 21st-century Atlanta. For an analysis of the book and an author interview, see ‘Eschatology: Paul Thigpen’s ‘My Visit to Hell” (chapter 5) and ‘An Interview With Paul Thigpen’ (Appendix I) in Darren J. N. Middleton, ‘Theology After Reading: Christian Imagination and the Power of Fiction‘ (Baylor University Press, 2008).”    –Paul Thigpen

Contributed by Paul Thigpen

Dan Brown, Inferno (2013)

dan-brown-inferno-2013Inferno, Dan Brown’s new book about Dante, is coming out on May 14, 2013 from Doubleday in the U.S., and Transworld Publishers in the UK (a division of Random House). Brown announced that he was writing something new in May 2012. Though Brown had been cryptic about the topic of the book, he has now revealed more information. The book will again feature The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol‘s lead character Robert Langdon. Brown also noted on The Today Show that it ‘will be set in Europe, in the most fascinating place I’ve ever seen’ (we’re guessing Florence, Italy since that’s where Dante wrote, and Florence’s Duomo church features on the cover of the book). Transworld’s press release for the book relates a bit more: the book will revolve around one of ‘history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces’ (we’re assuming Dante’s Divine Comedy, with a focus on the Inferno portion, due to the title of the book).

“The title was announced this morning on The Today Show. Readers were invited to participate in the unveiling of the title by posting on Facebook or tweeting, using the hashtag #DanBrownToday that they were helping unveil the title of Dan Brown’s newest book. These readers’ profile pictures then claimed a tile in a mosaic. After enough readers contributed their title suggestions, the new title was revealed. Even if you’ve never read a Dan Brown book, you can guess that the man really enjoys his puzzles.”    –Zoe Triska, The Huffington Post, January 15, 2013

dan-brown-inferno-2013

See also: Janet Maslin, “On a Scavenger Hunt to Save Most Humans,” The New York Times, May 12, 2013

Craig Johnson, “Hell is Empty” (2011)

craig-johnson-hell-is-empty-2011“. . . And then there is this: ‘Hell Is Empty’ is a homage to Dante’s Inferno. Johnson has taken images and allusions from that great work about hell, written in the 14th century, and plugged them into his narrative, weaving added meaning into the book and an extra challenge for those readers wishing to search them out.
Early on, readers see that Longmire’s deputy, Santiago ‘Sancho’ Saizarbitoria, is carrying with him a copy of Dante’s Inferno. Johnson mentions it several times – pointing to its hidden role in the book – and Walt later takes a look into Sancho’s copy and stumbles across the opening:
‘At one point midway on our path in life, I found myself searching through a dark wood, the right way blurred and lost.’
Walt’s response? ‘Boy howdy.’
Boy howdy, indeed. And so it begins, Walt’s plunge into his own personal hell – both literally and figuratively – filled with allusions to Inferno. Just a few: Walt travels up a mountain – as did Dante. He walks across a frozen lake – as did Dante. He is greeted by a lion – yes, it’s a mountain lion, but so what? And Walt nearly is consumed in a fire.
There are many others. It will be interesting to see Johnson’s fans put together lists and post them on the Internet.
I can tell you that ‘Hell’ sent me scuttling to my bookshelf for a copy of Inferno to see what I could reference. (I also spent a weekend reviewing a SparksNotes synopsis of the great poem in preparation for this review. Please don’t tell my high school English teacher.)
Perhaps the greatest allusion, and another level of the book, is pointed to by Walt’s guide, a Crow Indian named Virgil who first appeared in Johnson’s fourth novel, ‘Another Man’s Moccasins.’
It is no coincidence that the guide’s name is Virgil – Dante was led through hell by the Roman poet of that name. But what comes in doubt as ‘Hell Is Empty’ proceeds is whether Virgil really exists at all. Is he alive? A dream figure? A hallucination? A ghost? The reader must decide that for him or herself – as does Walt.
But Virgil is not just a mountain guide. He also becomes a spiritual guide for Longmire. This book is about a lot more than just a chase in the mountains. Rather, it digs deep into questions of life and death and afterlife. No small task for a 320-page thriller.” [. . .]    –D. Reed Eckhardt, Wyoming News, 26 June 2011

Taxi Driver

taxi-driver“‘Taxi Driver’ was a groundbreaking hybrid of the grind house (with its urban vigilante plot borrowed from Michael Winner’s 1974 ‘Death Wish’) and the art house (with quotations from Godard, Bresson and perhaps, in some of Travis’s more abstract nocturnal wanderings, the unfocused subjectivity of Stan Brakhage’s avant-garde films). The movie draws on contemporary fears of urban decay and social collapse, but is as timeless as Dante, with its descent into an East Village hell followed, in the extraordinary coda, by a glimpse of a West Village paradise where Travis is miraculously reunited with his corn-fed Beatrice (Cybill Shepherd), a sequence of teasingly ambiguous reality. ” [. . .]    –Dave Kehr, The New York Times, April 8, 2011

Veiko Ounpuu, “The Temptation of St. Tony” (2010)

veiko-ounpuu-the-temptation-of-st-tony-2010

“Bizarre and beautiful, disturbing and droll, The Temptation of St. Tony wonders what it means to be a good man. Kicking off with a quotation from Dante’s Inferno, this delirious sophomore feature from the Estonian filmmaker Veiko Ounpuu observes Tony (Taavi Eelmaa), a triumphantly depressed middle manager. Dissatisfied with his adulterous wife and a boss who orders him to sack all his factory workers, Tony descends into a midlife crisis that manifests itself as a series of increasingly hilarious, horrific visions.” [. . .]    –Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times, September 16, 2010