Liam Ó Broin’s Commedia Lithographs (2021)

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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.

Dantedì and the Italian Migrant Crisis

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“Among supporters for the Dante day is Italy’s minister for foreign affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who recently expressed his enthusiasm for the project in an article penned for Corriere. ‘Dante is fully and pervasively part of the genetic code of what it is to be Italian,’ Moavero Milanesi wrote. Given that Dante’s poem is heavily Catholic, and shows Prophet Mohammed split in half by a demon for ‘sowing schism,’ conflating Dante with modern Italian culture reflects ideas that are outdated – and nationalistic.

“This uncritical celebration of the past diverts attention from the dark conditions on Italy’s shores. While Dante’s pilgrim makes an arduous but enlightening journey towards paradise in order to escape the inferno, Moavero Milanesi and Salvini would prefer that the migrants remain in limbo. Rather than supporting their assimilation, Moavero Milanesi has laid out a plan that advises migrants against attempting the crossing. [. . .]   –Emma Leech, “A campaign to commemorate Dante distracts from a crisis on Italy’s coastline,” The New Statesman (July 30, 2019)

Vasuki Shastry, Asia’s 8 Circles of Hell

“Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Shastry takes readers on a journey through modern Asia’s eight circles of hell where we encounter urban cowboys and cowgirls fleeing rural areas to live in increasingly uninhabitable cities, disadvantaged teenage girls unable to meet their aspirations due to social strictures, internal mutiny, messy geopolitics from the rise of China, and a political and business class whose interests are in conflict with a majority of the population. Shastry challenges conventional thinking about Asia’s place in the world and the book is essential reading for those with an interest in the continent’s future.”    –From the book description, Amazon

Daniel Berrigan, The Discipline of the Mountain: Dante’s Purgatorio in a Nuclear World (1979)

“In The Discipline of the Mountain Daniel Berrigan offers ‘ways of imagining our plight’ through the poetic vision of Dante’s Purgatorio. There can be found ‘a faithful vision, an alternative, a truthful image of God, of ourselves, of history.’ Berrigan employs free, poetic adaptation of the original–its themes, moods, discourses, encounters–with a prose commentary relating the text to political-moral issues of the present day. With its themes of lust and hatred, religious strife and ecclesiastical corruption, military power and oppression, the Purgatorio is an apt allegory of modern society. Thirteenth-century kings and princes shade into twentieth-century colonels and shahs and juntas.”   —Description from Wipf and Stock Publishers

In a review published in the magazine Sojourners, Lionel Basney writes, “Berrigan writes that he went to the Purgatorio in search of “ways of imagining our plight.” Looking for new vision in an old work is a familiar activity; but when it means reforging that work to make a new vision, it becomes complicated for both writer and reader. Unlike translation, an ‘imitation’ does not replace the original text. Instead it offers a new work through which the old text is still visible; to read it is to read two texts. Its author writes in the confidence, or hope, that the vision of the older text is still valid, assuming that for his readers as for himself the vision’s fundamental values remain true and compelling.

“But are we close enough to Dante to make this complicated process work? That depends on what we need from him. Berrigan needs terms in which to grasp the barrenness and violence of a way of life that constantly threatens war. Wanting Christian terms for this, terms powerful to Christian consciences, he naturally turns to Dante as the great poet of the Christian vision. And certainly Dante’s world was no less violent than ours.”   –Lionel Basney, “Berrigan’s Reawakening of Vision” (Review), Sojourners, August 1980

Carlos Martínez Moreno, El Infierno (1981)

“This last novel by Uruguayan writer and defense attorney Martínez Moreno, who died in exile in 1986, depicts the revolt of Uruguay’s Tupamaro urban guerillas and their suppression by the military in the early 1970s. Using true accounts of kidnapping, torture and murder from political detainees whom he defended while living in Uruguay, Martínez Moreno fashions a dreamlike yet brutally realistic story of a police state. His book borrows chiefly from The Inferno in Dante’s Divine Comedy. In this modern-day hell, wealthy Uruguayan bankers and prosecutors are kidnapped by the Tupamaros; army colonels and police officers learn more effective ways to torture political prisoners from the ‘cold, calculating’ North American ‘adviser.'”   —Publishers Weekly, 1988

For more on the novel and its relationship to Dante’s poem, see Efraín Kristal’s “What Is, Is Not: Dante in Tomas Eloy Martínez’s Purgatorio,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 31.4 (2012): 473-484 (accessible here).

Tomás Eloy Martínez, Purgatorio (2008)

“It should be noted from the outset that unlike Dante’s Purgatorio, which explores the painful processes of self‐examination of those who sinned, repented before they died, and are preparing themselves to enter Paradise’s realm of bliss, Martínez’s Purgatorio is a meditation on a state of suffering by the innocent victims of Argentina’s dictatorial regimes of the 1970s. The notion of a ‘purgatory’ for repentant sinners in Dante, therefore, is creatively transformed in Martinez’s Purgatorio to suggest a shameful period of Argentina’s history plagued by repression and violence, but most importantly, by the pain it generated for decades to come in those who were affected by it.”   –Efrain Kristal, “What Is, Is Not: Dante in Tomás Eloy Martínez’s Purgatorio,” Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2012 (abstract publicly available; full text behind paywall)

The novel, originally published in Spanish in 2008, was translated into English by Frank Wynne (Bloomsbury, 2011).

DeseretNews, “We are living in Dante’s Inferno: Here’s Our Way Out”

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“Many of us who face the start of 2021 are experiencing political and personal crises analogous to what Dante confronted seven centuries earlier. Families are split according to political alliances. Homes are being lost to foreclosures. More walls are going up than doors are being opened. Pride leads us to blame others rather than accept any personal responsibility. We prefer to react rather than act in ways that lead to positive, forward motion. Dante’s epic, if read to the end, teaches that there is a better and more hopeful way.

“To follow Dante’s example, we must read widely and be open to more than one news source or a single viewpoint. We must recognize how breaking the law, whether God’s or man’s, easily leads to corruption, no matter how smart or rich the person is. We must take responsibility for our own actions, acknowledge when we are wrong, and engage in honest efforts to make amends. We must adopt long-term views and prioritize what matters most. Dante would argue that only then can one find the wisdom and the fortitude to endure to the end.” [. . .]    –Madison Sowell, DeseretNews, January 18, 2021.

 

“Dante’s Descendant Seeks to Overturn Poet’s 1302 Corruption Conviction”

guardian-dantes-descendant-tries-to-overturn-conviction-2021“”There were two sentences inflicted on Dante. The first was exile, the second was death and it will be interesting to understand whether in the light of the Florentine statutes of the time and the current legal principles the two judgments could be subject to revision,’ said Traversi.

“The plans to clear Dante’s name will begin with a conference in May, with participants including historians, linguists, lawyers – and Antoine de Gabrielli, the descendant of Cante de Gabrielli da Gubbio, the Florentine official who convicted Dante. They will be investigating if Dante’s sentences were just, said Traversi, or “the poisoned fruit of politics that used justice to attack an opponent”.

“‘Not everyone is convinced of the need for rehabilitation. Writing in the same paper, journalist Aldo Cazzullo said that Dante “is the one who invented the word ‘belpaese’ [beautiful country]’. ‘What could a late acquittal add, however necessary?’ he asked.”  [. . .]    –Alison Flood, The Guardian, February 1, 2021.

The Dual Observer: “Hamilton Dems Register Damned Souls in NY-22”

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“After crossing Acheron, the river of woe, Aligheri led the Dems through the nine circles of eternal suffering in search of spirits willing to switch their voter registration to Clinton. The group had a productive afternoon getting networking advice from their parents’ deceased coworkers and handing registration forms to any vaguely American-looking ghost able to pull its head above the lake of fire. ‘I want to make sure that the Hamilton locals have the best public officials I can pick for them,’ Aligheri said after securing an application from a heretic buried in a flaming tomb. ‘I just love the Uvula area and I want to give back. Like back home in Connecticut when I go down to McDonald’s and give the poors unsolicited investment advice.'” [. . .]    –Mr. Nelson, The Dual Observer, October 9, 2020.

“Dante’s Inferno and Governor Good Hair”

“Dante wrote his famous work in a day when pundits could not openly attack the powers that be in columns such as this for fear of their lives.  Well thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution I’m somewhat protected in what I can say about our contemporary politicians.  I’m somewhat limited because I cannot defame or slander anyone; I can, however, make fun of them as I describe their foibles and fumblings.

“Anyway, I digress.  Dante wrote his very descriptive poem describing Hell (The Inferno) as being constructed of many layers.  The lower you descended the worse the conditions were.  The sinner who passed away was assigned to the specific layer reserved for those with similar sins and the worse the sins the lower the level.

“Interestingly enough Dante placed politicians in the lowest levels where those who lied, committed treachery, fraud and treason against the state.  I couldn’t figure where Governor Good Hair exactly belonged because he has been guilty of so many infractions.  So, I stuck him in both levels.”   —Mary Mata, News Taco, 2014

Read the full article here.