Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (2012)

gone-girl-movie-still-abandon-all-hopeIn both the book and the movie Gone Girl the main character, Amy, says about marriage: “Marriage is compromise and hard work, and then more hard work and communication and compromise. And then work. Abandon all hope, ye who enter.”

For the 2012 book by Gillian Flynn, see the Gone Girl page on Flynn’s website.

For the 2014 film directed by David Fincher, see the film’s official website.

Contributed by Autumn Friesen (University of Texas ’16)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818, 1831)

Frontispiece_to_Frankenstein_1831-Chapter-5-Dante

“Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.” — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Chapter 5)

Contributed by Kate Geraghty (Bowdoin, ’07) and Megan Alvarado (University of Texas at Austin, ’18)

Nathaniel Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow (2013)

Odds Against TomorrowMitchell Zukor, the protagonist of Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, suffers from panic attacks and often uses phrases like “going to a deeper circle in hell.”

Rich’s website describes the novel:

“New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. [. . .]

“As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe–ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters–he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. [. . .]

“Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. [. . .]

“At once an all-too plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.”    —Nathaniel Rich’s Website

 

Contributed by Thomas Jonkergouw, Universiteit Utrecht

Francesco Fioretti, La Selva Oscura (2015)

La Selva Oscura is Italian author and Dante scholar Francesco Fioretti‘s latestLa Selva Oscura book, published in January 2015. The thriller is a reinterpretation of the Inferno in modern Italian. Fioretti has already begun a novel based on Purgatorio, and intends to have published novels corresponding to each of the three canticles by 2021, the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. Fioretti is also the author of Il Libro Segreto di Dante (2011) and La Profezia Perduta di Dante (2013).

“Scopo dichiarato dell’autore è offrire ‘anche al lettore non specialista la preziosa opportunità, (in Italia data di solito solo agli addetti ai lavori), di leggere la prima cantica del poema dantesco dall’inizio alla fine, come un romanzo contemporaneo’, proprio come avviene in altri paesi dove è possibile leggere La Commedia in traduzione , nelle rispettive lingue moderne.”    —Repubblica.it, “Come un thriller l’Inferno di Dante in italiano moderno”

Click here to read an interview with Fioretti about his novel.

Ismail Kadare’s Twilight of the Eastern Gods

twilight-eastern-gods-ismail-kadare

“[…] “Twilight of the Eastern Gods was published in parts in Albania between 1962 and 1978, translated into French by Jusuf Vrioni in 1981, and only now appears in English, in David Bellos’s translation of Vrioni’s French. In his introduction Bellos assures us of the factuality of Kadare’s account of the Pasternak affair, and says that many of the faculty and students at the Gorky Institute are called by their real names, but reports that Kadare’s wife’s study of his early correspondence has shown that other elements of the book, such as the narrator’s romance with a young Moscovite called Lida Snegina, are entirely fictional.”

[…]

“Here’s the way the narrator describes the Gorky Institute dormitory to Lida: ‘First floor: that’s where the first-year students stay; they’ve not yet committed many literary sins. Second floor: critics, conformist playwrights, whitewashers. Third . . . circle: dogmatics . . . and Russian nationalists. Fourth circle: women, liberals and people disenchanted with socialism. Fifth circle: slanderers and snitches. Sixth circle: denaturalized writers who have abandoned their own language to write in Russian.’  I’m not sure if I’d rank him with Dante, but I intend to keep laying an annual £20 bet on Kadare for as long as he lives.”

–Christian Lorentzen, The New York Times, November 26, 2014

Francesco Gungui, Canti delle Terre Divise (2014)

canti-delle-terre-divise

Canti delle Terre Divise

Italian author Francesco Gungui completed the Canti delle Terre Divise trilogy this year: Inferno (2103), Purgatorio, and Paradiso (2014). Gungui’s young adult novels tell the story of Alec and Maj, two teenagers living in a dystopic city that resembles the landscape of The Divine ComedyGungui, a Milan native, is a popular young adult writer in Italy. The Canti delle Terre Divise series is his most recent work.

“Se sei nato a Europa, la grande città nazione del prossimo futuro, hai due sole possibilità: arrangiarti con lavori rischiosi o umili, oppure riuscire a trovare un impiego a Paradiso, la zona dove i ricchi vivono nel lusso più sfrenato e possono godere di una natura incontaminata. Ma se rubi o uccidi o solo metti in discussione l’autorità, quello che ti aspetta è la prigione definitiva, che sorge su un’isola vulcanica lontana dal mondo civile: Inferno.

“Costruita in modo da ricalcare l’inferno che Dante ha immaginato nella Divina Commedia, qui ogni reato ha il suo contrappasso. Piogge di fuoco, fiumi di lava, gelo, animali mostruosi rendono la vita difficile ai prigionieri che spesso muoiono prima di terminare la pena. Nessuno sceglierebbe di andare volontariamente a Inferno, tranne Alec, un giovane cresciuto nella parte sbagliata del mondo, quando scopre che la ragazza che ama, Maj, vi è stata mandata con una falsa accusa. Alec dovrà compiere l’impresa mai riuscita a nessuno, quella di scappare con lei dall’Inferno, combattendo per sopravvivere prima che chi ha complottato per uccidere entrambi riesca a trovarli…

“Il primo romanzo di una trilogia fantasy di grandissima potenza, scritta da uno degli autori italiani young adult più amati.”    —Amazon

Peter Mountford, The Dismal Science (2014)

picture-of-peter-mountford

“The mountain of Purgatory haunts the cover of Peter Mountford’s arresting second novel, The Dismal Science. The image, which calls to mind the second volume of The Divine Comedy, leads the reader into the book, the stark path curling its way up toward Terrestrial Paradise, symbolized by one lonely but verdant tree.

“Purgatory is the underlying structural metaphor of the novel; across its sweep, Vincenzo D’Orsi, the main character, will ascend the mountain as he tries to make sense of, and finally purge, the wreckage of his life.”    –Martha McPhee, “The Dismal Science, by Peter Mountford,” The New York Times, April 11, 2014

Brigid Pasulka, Sun and Other Stars (2014)

brigid-pasulka-sun-and-other-starsIn his Sunday Book Review of Brigid Pasulka’s novel The Sun and Other Stars, Mike Peed describes the main character Etto: “. . . Etto tries to numb his pain with sarcasm and self-effacement. He is misanthropic and fatalistic, frequently funny and sometimes annoying. He explains himself by quoting Dante: ‘I found myself in a dark wilderness.’ Who will be his Virgil? Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian-born Italian soccer star ensnared in a match-fixing scandal who has absconded to San Benedetto’s supposed seclusion, inveigles Etto into playing regular pickup games and even fashions him a green-and-white jersey, ‘for hope and faith. When you do not have ability.'”    –Mike Peed, The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Our Young-Adult Dystopia

city-of-dis“I sometimes wonder what Dante or Milton or any of those guys would make of the modern appetite for the young-adult epic. It wasn’t always a lucrative thing, writing grand, sweeping, fantastical stories, you know. It was a job for nose-to-the-grindstone, writing-for-the-ages types, and worldly rewards were low. Milton died in penury, blind and obscure; Dante met his maker in literal exile. Would they look with envy upon their celebrated and moneyed modern analogues– your J. K. Rowlings, your Suzanne Collinses?”    –Michelle Dean, “Our Young-Adult Dystopia,” New York Times Magazine, January 31, 2014

Susan Jihrad, Dickens’ Inferno (2013)

jhirad“This book is a fascinating and original insight into two authors who have inspired us for centuries. Perhaps unique among world authors, Dickens and Dante create comprehensive moral systems still strikingly relevant in today’s world, filled with greed, religious hypocrisy, fraud, violence and war. At the same time their compelling characters can still move us to tears and laughter. By dropping them into their appropriate circles of Dante’s Inferno, Professor Jhirad delves deeply into Dickens’ villains in a way that is both scholarly and accessible to the average reader. Additional chapters on Dickens’ Purgatory and Paradise add richness to the book.”  —Amazon