Dwight Garner, “‘Echo’s Bones,’ A Beckett Short Story Rediscovered”

Beckett-Echos-Bones-Belacqua-Dante“When the British publisher Chatto & Windus agreed in 1933 to publish Samuel Beckett’s first book of fiction, a collection of 10 interrelated stories titled ‘More Pricks Than Kicks,’ it asked him for one final story, a culminating wallop.

“There was a problem. Beckett had killed off the book’s protagonist, a Dublin intellectual named Belacqua Shuah, in an earlier story. He had to be nonchalantly resurrected. A second problem arose. Beckett’s editor at Chatto & Windus, Charles Prentice, found the new story Beckett delivered, ‘Echo’s Bones,’ to resemble less a comely infant than a troubling heap of placenta and broken forceps.

“’It is a nightmare,’ Prentice wrote to Beckett. This was the start of one of the great rejection letters in literary history. ‘It gives me the jim-jams.’ He declared: ‘People will shudder and be puzzled and confused.’

It’s not you, Prentice continued. It’s me. ‘I am sitting on the ground, and ashes are on my head.’ [. . .]

“Its pleasures border on the painful; you will have to like the sound of breaking glass. You may wish to exclaim about ‘Echo’s Bones,’ as Belacqua does about his re-emergence on earth, ‘My soul begins to be idly goaded and racked, all the old pains and aches of me soul-junk return!’

Soul-junk isn’t a bad term for Beckett’s prose here. ‘Echo’s Bones,’ as Mr. Nixon’s annotations make clear, is a magpie’s assortment of references, allusions and quotations, with nods to Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Mozart, biographies, folklore, movies, popular songs. Set amid all this are cosmic stage directions of the sort we later became familiar with in Beckett. Here’s one: ‘Doyle ate dirt.'”    –Dwight Garner, “A Castoff Joins a Master’s Canon: ‘Echo’s Bones,’ A Beckett Short Story Rediscovered,” New York Times

Marcello Toninelli’s Dante: La Divina Commedia a Fumetti (2007)

Toninelli's DanteMarcello Toninelli, Italian cartoonist, published a comic-strip version of The Divine Comedy beginning in 2007.

“Così il fiorentino Alighieri raccontava il suo viaggio all’Inferno, ma è risaputo che… faceva la Commedia! Il senese Marcello la racconta in un altro modo, decisamente più divertente. Nell’Oltretomba nato dalla sua irriverente matita Omero gioca a mosca cieca, Cerbero mangia alla mensa diavoli e Virgilio fa, suo malgrado… il parafulmine! Seguendo rispettosamente il tracciato dell’opera originale ma occhieggiando continuamente al nostro presente, con quest’opera Marcello ha realizzato la più completa, esilarante e irresistibile parodia del capolavoro dantesco.”    —Amazon.it

Click here to visit Toninelli’s blog, “Io e Dante”.

Contributed by Angela Lavecchia

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

The Rogue Theatre’s Dante’s Purgatorio (2014)

dante purgatorio tucson image

“Baliani has adapted Purgatorio, the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy for the stage.” […]

“See this Rogue production, directed by Joseph McGrath, and you’d wonder why it hasn’t been done before (we could not find references to any other stage adaptations). It was completely engrossing.”   –Kathy Allen, “Review: The Rogue’s ‘Dante’s Purgatorio‘: Sins and shades shape an engrossing climb,” Arizona Daily Star, May 01, 2014

See also Sherrilyn Forrester’s review in Tucson Weekly, May 01, 2014.

Irena Lisiewicz’s Purgatorio Image Theatre

irena-lisiewiczs-purgatorio-image-theatreIrena Lisiewicz, a professional artist and costume and set designer, created a project entitled Purgatorio Image Theatre (2009-2013), inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. To learn more about Lisiewicz and her works, view her LinkedIn profile, a Slideshare of her project Purgatorio Image Theatre, and a Picasa Web Album of her artwork.

Illustrations by Mattotti, Glaser, and Moebius (1999)

lorenzo-mattotti-inferno-1999     milton-glaser-purgatorio-1999     moebius-paradiso-1999

In 1999, Nuages Gallery in Milan published these three illustrated editions of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. See Nuages to learn more about the illustrators (Lorenzo Mattotti, Milton Glaser, and Moebius) and the project as a whole.

Enrico Cerni, “Dante per i manager” (2010)

enrico-cerni-dante-per-i-manager-2010     dante-per-i-manager-inferno

This how-to book, published in 2010, was written as a guide for managers and entrepreneurs to navigating the business world. Through the sections Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, Enrico Cerni creates a book-long metaphor using the famous characters and sites from Dante’s Divine Comedy. 

See Dante for Life for more information.

Musea/Colossus Project: “Dante’s Divine Comedy” Parts I, II, III (2009-2010)

“Musea’s collaboration with Finnish Colossus Society has been fruitful in these last years, and the newest release is the most ambitious so far: a 4 cd set, with a comprehensive booklet, featuring 34 bands to address the 34 cantos of the “Inferno” part of the legendary 14th century epic poem ‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante Alighieri (Purgatory and Paradise will be the concept of future releases, in order to complete the trilogy).
With such an amount of bands coming from different grounds within the progressive aesthetics, it is only natural that the conducting line is only maintained by the story and by the usage of vintage instruments (moog, mellotron, etc) which are common to all the guest bands. In part, and besides the fact that this approach secures a wide array of styles and different musical perspectives, it is also true that it makes the album not being as cohesive and focused as the Epic Poem that muses it would deserve. But hey! There are 4hours+ of pure “regressive” symphonic rock to fully enjoy!”    –Nuno, Proggnosis

Click album covers below to see track titles and credits:

musea-colossus-project-the-divine-comedy-inferno.jpg musea-colossus-project-the-divine-comedy-purgatorio.jpg musea-colossus-project-the-divine-comedy-paradiso.jpg

Samuel Beckett, “More Pricks Than Kicks” (1934)

samuel-beckett-more-pricks-than-kicks-1934More Pricks Than Kicks is a collection of short prose by Samuel Beckett, first published in 1934. The stories chart the life of the book’s main character, Belacqua Shuah, from his days as a student to his accidental death. Beckett takes the name Belacqua from a figure in Dante’s Purgatorio, a Florentine lute-maker famed for his laziness. . . The opening story, ‘Dante and the Lobster,’ features Belacqua’s horrified reaction to the discovery that the lobster he has bought for dinner must be boiled alive. ‘It’s a quick death, God help us all’, Belacqua tells himself, before the narrator’s stern interjection to the contrary: ‘It is not.'”    —Wikipedia

John Kinsella, “Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography” (2008)

john-kinsella-divine-comedy-journeys-through-a-regional-geography-2008“This mammoth new volume from Australia’s Kinsella (Doppler Effect) takes its template and three-line stanza from the three books of Dante’s epic, out of order: first Purgatorio, then Paradiso, then Inferno. Each of the three works, made from dozens of separate poems, joins allusions to Dante with sights, events and memories from Kinsella’s Australia, especially the farming region outside Perth, where he grew up and sometimes lives. The poet’s wife, Tracy (his Beatrice, he says), and their toddler, Tim, play roles throughout. Mostly, though, the poems concern places, not people; their ground note is ecological, with nature taking many forms (locust wings… at sunrise over shallow farm-dams steaming already) set against the ballast/ of cars and infrastructures that endangers it all. That motif of eco-protest dominates the Inferno (last blocks of bushland// cleared away to placate the hunger/ for the Australian Dream), but it turns up in all three of these (perhaps too similar, and surely too long) sequences. Like his compatriot Les Murray, Kinsella can sound uncontrolled, even sloppy. Yet he can turn a phrase (Who describes where we are without thinking/ of when we’ll leave it?). Moreover, he means all he says and never exhausts his ideas or ambition.”    –Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)