Adam Roberts, Purgatory Mount (2021)

“An interstellar craft is decelerating after its century-long voyage. Its destination is V538 Aurigae, a now-empty planet dominated by one gigantic megastructure, a conical mountain of such height that its summit is high above the atmosphere. The ship’s crew of five hope to discover how the long-departed builders made such a colossal thing, and why: a space elevator? a temple? a work of art? Its resemblance to the mountain of purgatory lead the crew to call this world Dante.

“In our near future, the United States is falling apart. A neurotoxin has interfered with the memory function of many of the population, leaving them reliant on their phones as makeshift memory prostheses. But life goes on. For Ottoline Barragão, a regular kid juggling school and her friends and her beehives in the back garden, things are about to get very dangerous, chased across the north-east by competing groups, each willing to do whatever it takes to get inside Ottoline’s private network and recover the secret inside.

“Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts’s first SF novel for three years, combines wry space opera and a fast-paced thriller in equal measure. It is a novel about memory and atonement, about exploration and passion, and like all of Roberts’s novels it’s not quite like anything else.”    —Amazon

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.

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

how the night came, Dante’s Purgatory (2019 album)

how the night came is a soundscape creator and instrumental music artist based in Japan. In fall 2019 how the night came released three albums based on each of the three canticles of Dante’s Commedia: Dante’s Inferno (September 7, 2019), Dante’s Purgatory (October 12, 2019), and Dante’s Paradise (October 27, 2019). Each of these (especially Inferno and Purgatory) are grounded in close interpretation of and serious reflection on the poem, as evidenced by the descriptions given in the liner notes.

Of particular interest is how the night came’s sonic interpretation of Dante’s Purgatory. The description explains, “Since the setting of Purgatory is an earthquake prone mountain covered with walls of rock, massive boulders, stone steps, white marble carvings, the prideful being punished by bearing the weight of heavy rocks, stone effigies, and pavements, I wanted to incorporate stone into my composition.” Some of the album’s sounds are created using acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, keyboard, stones, chopsticks, and silence. Of the theme “BEATRICE,” which marks the arrival of Beatrice in Purgatorio 30 (15:57-16:30 in the album’s single track), the artist writes:

BEATRICE is 33 seconds of silence. Her demolition of Dante is a staggering moment of world literature. Here, we read a medieval male poet attacking himself through the voice of a female. Initially, Beatrice turns to the angels to lambaste Dante, and when she finally addresses him… it is extremely painful for us to hear. I tried several musical themes for this moment, but they all failed miserably. I then recalled the scene in Taxi Driver when Travis (Robert De Niro) makes a humiliating phone call to Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) – Martin Scorcese has the camera turn away, as if to spare us seeing another human being suffer the pain of rejection. And thus silence – in this case, the musical equivalent of pulling the camera away – finally offered itself as the most fitting means for communicating Dante’s sense of loss, guilt, shame and inadequacy.

“(Perhaps this silence can also be heard as an expression of the absence of Virgil, who left Dante at the end of Canto 27).

“The silence is broken by the return of the Earthly Paradise theme, but this time it is quantized, the newly punctuated rhythms signifying the beginning of the strict realignment of Dante’s soul.”   —how the night came’s WordPress site (accessed May 18, 2021)

Listen on YouTube, bandcamp, or Soundcloud.

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.

Deborah DeNicola, “Desire with Mountain and Dante” (2010)

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Deborah DeNicola’s poem “Desire with Mountain and Dante” was published in the collection Original Human in 2010. In a personal email communication, DeNicola recounts, “I am an east-coast person and I was in Seattle and Mt. Rainier was in the distance. I had not been in a relationship for several years and was aware of my own ‘desire without an object of desire,’ as Wallace Stevens puts it. I had been teaching The Inferno so Dante was on my mind.”

Original Human can be purchased at Amazon. Many thanks to the author for permission to reprint the poem.

Dante for Children and for Curious Parents (2021)

Purgatorio Bambini

Pia de’ Tolomei speaking with Dante and Virgil in Purg. 5

“This is a tweet from Federico Corradini, illustrator, on his new children’s adaptation of Purgatorio in the series Dante per bambini e per genitori curiosi, illustrated for Silvia Baroncelli, author. The first book in the series, Inferno, was published earlier this year. The series is for sale on Amazon (I imagine Paradiso is forthcoming!).”  –Kate McKee (Bowdoin, ’22)

 

Emma Safe’s “Between Three Worlds”

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“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.

Detective Dante Comics (2005-2007)

“The comic book series Detective Dante is loosely based on the Divine Comedy. Not only is the protagonist named Dante, but the whole series is divided into three parts called Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The first issues in particular contain many references and textual quotations of Dante’s poem.”   –Contributor Alessio Aletta

The series was created by Lorenzo Baroli and Roberto Recchioni. It was published by Eura Editoriale from 2005-2007.

See the gallery of cover images on the Grand Comics Database.

Contributed by Alessio Aletta (University of Toronto)