Donna Distefano’s “The Love That Moves the Sun and the Other Stars” Ring

“I created a one-of-a-kind ring inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto 33, The Final Vision. I’ve studied The Divine Comedy in both English and Italian and have always loved the way the poem combines so many seemingly disparate elements: mythology, realism, love, judgment, geometry, and astronomy to name a few. In Canto 33, Dante faces God and sees ‘the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.’ It is the moment when his life on earth intersects with his life outside of this earth.”   –Donna Distefano

The ring, which features pieces of actual meteorite, was featured in the exhibit “Out of this World: Jewelry in the Space Age” at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia (November 7, 2020 – October 24, 2021). In Style magazine did a piece on it, too (see image below).

See also our previous post on Distefano’s “Elixir of Love” ring.

Contributed by Donna Distefano

Jews in Dante


“This year, commemorations of the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, have scarcely addressed the subject of how Dante wrote about Jews.

“Dante places a number of Old Testament Jews, including Abraham, Sarah, Rachel and Joshua in Paradise. Because some of the limited space is left empty there for Christians, the complement of Jews who prefigure the New Testament is full; so there are, at least temporarily, more Jews in Dante’s Paradise than Christians.

“Dante’s Purgatory includes the story of Mordecai and Haman to decry the sin of anger, whereas Daniel is praised for his temperance. In his Paradise, Dante likewise lauds Joshua and Judas Maccabeus as combatants for righteousness, while King David and Hezekiah from the Second Book of Kings and Second Book of Chronicles are exalted as just monarchs.” […].   –Benjamin Ivry, The Forward, July 18, 2021

See the rest of this essay for many more references to Jews in Dante’s works, and Jews who have cited Dante as inspiration for their work and thought.  It is debatable, however, that there are no Jews in Inferno.

Seth Steinzor, In Dante’s Wake (3 volumes)

In Dante’s Wake is a journey in poetry through the moral universe, from blinkered evil to heaven’s networks by way of the muddled-up places in between.

“Once Was Lost, the third and final volume of the trilogy, finds heaven on a North Atlantic beach, beginning with a breakfast of fried claims at sunrise, moving through encounters with people whose lives have been a blessing to humanity, and ending in a series of visions of psychedelic strangeness and power.”   —Seth Steinzor’s Website

Fomite Press published Steinzor’s Once Was Lost on June 18, 2021. Each of the three volumes of In Dante’s Wake revisits one canticle of Dante’s CommediaTo Join the Lost (Hell), Among the Lost (Purgatory), and Once Was Lost (Paradise). See our previous post of Steinzor’s To Join the Lost here.

Contributed by Seth Steinzor

Dante Alighieri’s COVID-19

person-wearing-mask“‘Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch’entrate.’ Abandon all hope, ye who enter.

“The words inscribed on the gates of hell, according to Dante Alighieri in the Divina Commedia, could be the best way to describe the tumultuous year we have experienced so far…

“The COVID-19 world crisis has shed light into how broken some systems are, how a social net would have helped the ‘most developed country in the world’ be the hero it is in the Hollywood movies.

“Instead, residents of the United States find themselves trapped in a hell only known to them and a select group of countries, like Brazil and Mexico. We currently have no Virgil that will guide us through the complex planes of hell. At this rate, Dante would have never gotten out of the Inferno to ever meet the concentric circles of the Paradiso.” []    –Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo, Iowa State Daily, July 30, 2020

IKEA: The 10th circle of hell

Ikea

“It’s fitting that IKEA stores are organised in a series of winding circles with no easy escape. It’s not unlike the circles of hell that the protagonist of Dante’s Inferno must wander before heading on to Purgatory and then Heaven.

“But unlike the soul in Dante’s epic poem, you never get to Heaven. What awaits you once you’ve managed to locate and then purchase your Tuffing and Malfors is yet another circle of hell. This one is in your own home and the instrument of torture is an Allen key.” [. . .]

–Kasey Edwards, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 15, 2019

Beatrice by William Dyce

“This painting was commissioned by [Dyce’s] friend, the Victorian prime minister WE Gladstone, a great Dante enthusiast. The model for Dante’s heroine was – at Gladstone’s request – Marian Summerhayes, an artist’s model and former prostitute “rescued” by the Liberal politician. It is possible that Dyce also used some photographic studies of the sitter to work from, which could explain the pensive stillness of his Beatrice, who is painted in three-quarter view and has a sculptured quality about it.

‘Dyce’s Beatrice sits serenely, her downcast eyes concentrating on something we cannot see within the picture space, thus elevating herself from this present to another time and place.” [. . .]    –Griffin Coe, The Guardian, May 3, 2021

This entry is part of the Guardian’s Great British Art Tour 2021

Liam Ó Broin’s Commedia Lithographs (2021)

Inferno-17-Usurers-Liam-O-Broin-Lithographs

Irish printmaker Liam Ó Broin completed a series of 100 lithographs based on Dante’s Commedia in honor of the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death in 2021. The lithographs are currently available to view in an online exhibit sponsored by the Centre for Dante Studies in Ireland (CDSI).

“Dante’s search on his journey was to go to the depths of the human imagination. In that journey he reveals himself as one who has a deep understanding of the nature, and importantly, the necessity of the human scheme of community. He also reveals, however flawed the mechanism from a political aspect was at the time, a very clear understanding of the way a city state, and by extension a nation, needs to be structured as an entity for good government – its core must be social justice. Here we have Dante the poet, Christian, philosopher and politician – fused into one.”   –From the Artist’s Statement.

Read more about Liam Ó Broin’s career at the artist’s personal website.

View our previous post on Ó Broin’s 2012 Inferno exhibition at Graphic Studio (Dublin) here.

We extend our great thanks to the artist for permission to reprint the image above.

Paradiso 17 in t.v. show Community

In the TV Series Community Episode 12 of Season 5, “Basic Story,” an insurance appraiser goes to Greendale Community College to determine the value of the school. The appraiser climbs the first step of the school’s stairs and recites Paradiso XVII, 58-60.

Contributed by Chiara Montera (University of Pittsburgh ’21)

My Phone Demon Made Me Buy…

adult baby blanket
“I’m not sure at what point I said ‘I’d love to be swaddled in an adult baby blanket’ loud enough for the ad-targeting demon in my iPhone to hear me, but like Virgil leading me through the nine rings of Amazon hell, I was ultimately guided down to adult baby blanket Paradiso. Now that I own this organic cotton muslin gauzy piece of heaven, I need to pass on its cozy ways.”   –Marissa Rosenblum, Refinery29, April 8, 2021

Contributed by Kate McKee (Bowdoin, ’22)

Emma Safe’s “Between Three Worlds”

emma-safe-betwee-three-worlds-paradiso-1-2014-trasumanar-head-first

“Taking influence from personal experience, classical mythology and Dante’s Commedia, concentrating particularly on existential and ontological themes, the works collected as Between Three Worlds explore human potential and human transience. Space and time is radically questioned. Figures are pulled between states of being; through sublime ascent, catastrophic destruction and the uneasy predicaments in-between. Avoiding idealism and with no certain answers, these works attempt to question different types of love, different states of being, examining the edges of existence and beyond.” [. . .]    –Emma Safe, Between Three Worlds.