William John Meegan, “The Sistine Chapel: A Study in Celestial Cartography” (2012)

william-john-meegan-the-sistine-chapel-a-study-in-celestial-cartography“Through a comprehensive comparative analysis of the symbolic and esoteric patterns codified to the Judeao Christian Scriptures, the landscape of Jerusalem, Chartres Cathedral (stone and glass), Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Commedia (pen and ink), the Sistine Chapel (mosaics, paint and wet plaster) and Saint Peter’s Basilica (marble) the reader can determine for him or herself the efficacy of the esoteric science, which hails from the dawn of the time/space continuum as a direct missive from God.
The author discovered a relatively simple and yet extremely sophisticated mathematical and grammatical system of thought in ancient literature: the integration of the Seven Liberal Arts.” [. . .]    –William John Meegan’s website

See other Dante-related books by William John Meegan:

  • “The Secrets & the Mysteries of Genesis: Antiquity’s Hall of Records,” published by Trafford Publishers, 2003. Chapter 7 discusses Dante mathematics.
  • “The Conquest of Genesis: A Study in Universal Creation Mathematics,” published by the Edwin Mellen Press, 1997. This study analyzes the Commedia’s compositional structure and its sophisticated mathematical system.

NY Times Review of Lanzmann’s “The Patagonian Hare”

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“The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs approached Claude Lanzmann in 1973 and suggested that, with Israel’s backing, he make a documentary film about the murder of the European Jews. Lanzmann was and is a French journalist, and his qualifications for undertaking such a project were obvious at a glance. He had spent many years producing copy for the glossy French magazine Elle and, then again, for mass-readership newspapers. He sat on the editorial committee of Jean-Paul Sartre’s magazine Les Temps Modernes. He was handy with a film camera. Also, he had displayed an acute sympathy for the plight of the Israelis — a less-than-­universal trait even in those days. . .Even now Lanzmann remains the editor of Les Temps Modernes, which makes him Sartre’s heir, institutionally speaking. Here is the torment of the assimilated Jewish left — a giant theme, which cries out for its Virgil or its Dante.” [. . .]    –Paul Berman, The New York Times, August 10, 2012

“Dante to Dead Man Walking: One Reader’s Journey Through the Christian Classics” (2002)

dante-to-dead-man-walking-one-readers-journey-through-the-christian-classics-2002“What do the book of Genesis, the Second Inaugural Address, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X all have in common? According to author Raymond Schroth, they are all works worthy of being called classics of Christian literature. In Dante to Dead Man Walking, Schroth discusses fifty works–from books of the Old Testament to contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction–that challenge the social conscience and raise moral or religious issues in a provocative way.”    —Amazon, May 13, 2012

Amy Bloom, “La Divina Commedia” (2006)

amy-bloom-la-divina-commedia-2006This anthology of some 20 short pieces focuses on each of the contributors’ most memorable meals. In La Divina Commedia Amy Bloom recounts her quest for the ultimate lasagna, recoiling in horror from the oxymoronic “dieter’s lasagna.” She writes: “I am looking for the perfect lasagna, making my way through cookbooks at midnight, ready for heartbreak but hopeful, like Dante seeking Beatrice.” [. . .]    —Amy Bloom

A.N. Wilson, “Dante in Love” (2011)

an-wilson-dante-in-love-2011“Dante is considered the greatest of all European poets–yet his most famous work, The Divine Comedy, remains widely unread.
Fueled by a lifetime’s obsession with Dante Alighieri and his work, the distinguished historian A. N. Wilson tells the remarkable story of the poet’s life and passions during the extraordinary political turbulence of thirteenth-century Europe. An impoverished aristocrat born in Florence, then the wealthiest city in Europe, Dante was the most observant and articulate of writers and was as profoundly absorbed in his ambition to be a great poet as he was with the central political and social issues of his time. The emergence of independent nation-states, the establishment of a modern banking system and currency, and the rise of Arabic teachings and Greek philosophy were all momentous events that Dante lived through. Amid this shifting political terrain, Wilson sets Dante in context with his great contemporaries–Giotto, Aquinas, and Pope Boniface VIII–and explains the significance of Beatrice and the part she has played in all our Western attitudes toward love and sex.”    —Powells

“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

Margaret Visser, “The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude” (2009)

margaret-visser-the-gift-of-thanks-the-roots-and-rituals-of-gratitude-2009 “. . .The Gift of Thanks is a scholarly, many-angled examination of what gratitude is and how it functions in our lives. Gratitude is a moral emotion of sorts, Ms. Visser writes, one that is more complicated and more vital than we think. Ms. Visser acknowledges that simple politeness is the grease that keeps society running and, conversely, how much hostility can build up among people when words like ‘thanks’ are not spoken.
In Dante’s Inferno, she observes, ‘at the bottommost circle of hell, the ungrateful are punished by being eternally frozen in the postures of deference they had failed to perform during their lifetimes: trapped rigid in enveloping ice, they stand erect or upside down, lie prone, or bow face to feet.’
In The Gift of Thanks, however, Ms. Visser is most interested in the kind of gratitude that is not compulsory or self-interested. She writes about the humility required to be genuinely grateful, and the essential ability to climb out of one’s own head.” [. . .]    –Dwight Garner, The New York Times, November 17, 2009

Chuck Klosterman, “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” (2004)

chuck-klosterman-sex-drugs-and-cocoa-puffs-2004“The following citing is taken from an essay about the 1980s rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. I quote: ‘Scrabble is a game. Popomatic Trouble is a game. Major League Baseball is a game. But any situation where [Larry] Bird is boxing out Magic [Johnson] for a rebound that matters is not. That is a conflict that dwarfs Dante.’ (NY: Scribner, p. 104)”    –Cody Reis

Contributed by Cody Reis (NYU)

“Young Idols With Cleavers Rule the Stage”

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“. . .The roots of the butcher as an icon of cool might be found in the writings of Bill Buford, who fashioned an operatic meat hero out of Dario Cecchini, a towering, Dante-spouting butcher from the Chianti countryside. Mr. Buford immortalized him in an article for The New Yorker and in his book ‘Heat.'” [. . .]    –Kim Severson, The New York Times, July 7, 2009.
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See also: Buford’s book, “Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany” and his 2006 article “Carnal Knowledge: How I Became a Tuscan Butcher” in The New Yorker.

Primo Levi, “If This is a Man” (1947)

primo-levi-if-this-is-a-man-1947Primo Levi’s harrowing account of life in Auschwitz includes many references to Dante’s Commedia, most noticeably in the chapter called “Canto of Ulysses.” In the chapter, Levi recounts a scene where he and a French prisoner discuss books from their respective homes. The canto of Ulysses (Inferno XXVI) comes to his mind and he recites several lines from it.