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

Beatrice’s Eyes and Beauty in The Divine Comedy

“A scholarly essay published in VoegelinView describing the symbolism of Beatrice’s eyes in The Divine Comedy. The essay also has a few references to how such symbolism, and the role of Beatrice in general, are relevant to us today.”    –Darrell Falconburg, VoegelinView, December 22, 2020

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.

“Dante is remembered most for his depiction of hell. This sculptor wants us to remember heaven, too.”

“VATICAN CITY (RNS) — In preparation for the 700 anniversary of the death of medieval poet Dante Alighieri, a Canadian artist is creating a sculptural tribute to his ‘Divine Comedy’ that would be the first sculptural rendition of the entire poem.

“‘In our culture Dante is becoming lost,’ said sculptor Timothy Schmalz in an interview with Religion News Service on Monday (July 20).

“Not only is Dante less and less required reading, Schmalz said, but his ‘Divine Comedy’ is often misrepresented by putting the focus only on the first part — the descriptions of hell and its fiery punishments.

“The Italian poet captivated generations by telling his imaginary journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. His use of popular Italian dialect in his writing, instead of the more high-brow Latin, earned him a title as the ‘Father of the Italian Language.’

“’Because I am a Christian sculptor I will right this wrong,’ Schmalz said. ‘I will do what has never been done before in the history of sculpture, which is to create a sculpture for each canto of the ”Divine Comedy.””  –Claire Giangravé, America, 2020

Read the full article here.

Divine Comedy of Our Time

the-divine-comedy-for-our-time-2017“This summer, in Mississippi, I sat by my father’s bed for three weeks and watched him die. After that, I drove one of my kids from Kentucky to New England for a college visit. Along the way, we climbed a mountain and spent the night in a rest area when we couldn’t find a motel room. Then, with five-sixths of my family and three weeks’ worth of camping gear packed into (and onto) an aging minivan, we drove to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Along the way, in British Columbia, we went through an active wildfire and saw a tree explode into flames about 50 feet from our van. At Banff we saw a moose, two grizzly bears, and the vast acres of gravel left behind by the rapidly receding Columbia Icefield.

“On every step of this long, strange trip, I carried with me a big, fat, well-worn paperback book, its margins filled with my youngest son’s class notes. So, what did I do this summer? I read The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Every night—well, most nights—I spent 15 or 20 minutes accompanying the poet of the early 1300s down into the depths of Hell, up the winding mountain trails of Purgatory, and on to the beatific vision of Paradise.” [. . .]    –Danny Duncan Collum, SOJOURNERS, December, 2017.

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)

 

Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007)

“Dinaw Mengestu belongs to that special group of American voices produced by global upheavals and intentional, if sometimes forced, migrations. These are the writer-immigrants coming here from Africa, East India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Their struggles for identity mark a new turn within the ranks of American writers I like to call ‘the in-betweeners.’ The most interesting work in American literature has often been done by such writers, their liminality and luminosity in American culture produced by changing national definitions (Twain, Kerouac, Ginsberg), by being the children of immigrants themselves (Bellow, Singer), by voluntary exile (Baldwin, Hemingway) and by trauma (Bambara, Morrison).

[. . .]

“Judith, a white woman who moves into the predominantly black Logan Circle, becomes Sepha’s Beatrice, and, as with Dante, she leads him from his exile to purgatory and, eventually, to redemption. They meet over the counter in Sepha’s store, which is where all the community eventually comes together – to buy, to hang out, to shoplift, to receive and pass along gossip. Sepha’s relationship with Judith is facilitated by the wonderful connection he has to Judith’s precocious daughter, Naomi. And like Dante and Beatrice, they have a love that remains fraught and unconsummated but powerful and transformative nonetheless. Part of the difficulty is that Judith represents the new wave of gentrification and Sepha’s decision to date her is seen as an act of betrayal by the other residents. Neighborhood tensions build because of Judith (since she symbolizes the oppressor), and her home is firebombed by local thugs. Sepha’s own redemption and the choice he makes in this matter are what shape his new self.”   –Chris Abani, “Dante, Beatrice in a narrative of immigration,” The Baltimore Sun (March 11, 2007)

Contributed by Francesco Ciabattoni (Georgetown University)

Uffizi Galleries’ TikTok video featuring Dante and Virgil

“This TikTok video by the Uffizi Galleries uses works by Emilio Demi and Carlo Albacini and the song ‘Gotta Go My Own Way’ from Disney’s hit 2007 movie High School Musical 2. It plays on the moment Virgil leaves Dante in Purgatorio.”   –Contributor Kate McKee

The TikTok video was posted on Dantedì (March 25) 2021 in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.

Contributed by Kate McKee (Bowdoin College ’22)

Silk stole illustrations by Marco Brancato for Orequo

Illustrator Marco Brancato’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso silk stoles for the luxury Italian fashion company, Orequo.

Contributed by Angela Lavecchia

Magnum X Dante– Limited edition ice cream pops inspired by the Comedy

Limited edition ice cream pops made in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.  Purgatorio pop arriving in May-June, and Paradiso pop in July-August.

“Magnum, la più alta espressione del piacere nel mondo del gelato, celebra Dante con un omaggio alla sua Divina Commedia, la più alta espressione d’arte della storia della letteratura italiana.  A 700 anni dalla morte del Sommo Poeta, arrivano tre limited edition dedicate alle tre cantiche Dantesche, per vivere un’esperienza coinvolgente e sorprendente.  Un viaggio che inizia dal gusto intrigante dell’inferno, per poi assaporare la dimensione multi-sensoriale del purgatorio e raggiungere il suo apice con il piacere puro e delicato del paradiso.”   —Magnum

Contributed by Brandon Essary