Ben Brantley, “‘Miles for Mary,’ a Sendup of the Interminable Meeting From Hell”

“Though Dante cataloged many forms of diabolical torture in his Inferno, a guided tour of hell, he somehow missed out on what could well be the most excruciating eternal punishment of all. I mean (ominous organ chords, please) the staff meeting that never, ever ends.” –Ben Brantley, “Review: ‘Miles for Mary,’ a Sendup of the Interminable Meeting From Hell,” New York Times, October 9, 2016


Review of Steven Sherrill, The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time (2016)


“Ovid describes the Minotaur as ‘part man, part bull,’ half cattle-shaggy, half smooth. Surely this creature deserves a brief campaign bio here: You might remember how, when King Minos’ wife fell hard for a gigantic white bull, their calf-child arrived ­lactose-intolerant, hungry only for human flesh. (I am not making this up, either.) A subterranean maze gets constructed as Minotaur’s cradle and prison. Dante later defamed the creature’s violence with a walk-on role in the Inferno. And only one century ago, Pablo Picasso — boy-­wizard at drawing animals and humans — found the Minotaur allowed both virtuosities concurrently. The horny, weak-eyed ­he-male beast became his ­spirit animal.” — Allan Gurganus, “A Minotaur’s in Maintenance in a Tale of Rust Belt America,” Review of The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time by Steven Sherrill, The New York Times, Sept. 30, 2016

Guy Raffa on Dante and Same-Sex Love

In a response to Rod Dreher’s 2015 book How Dante Can Save Your Life, Guy Raffa (creator of the Danteworlds website) discusses the question of same-sex love in the Comedy:

Raffa-on-Dreher-Dante-Same-Sex-Love-Pop-Matters“In his otherwise fine explication and application of the Divine Comedy, Dreher badly misunderstood—or just plain missed—Dante’s view of same-sex love. […]

“The point can’t be made often or forcefully enough: getting Dante straight means getting him gay, as well. When it comes to the sex or gender of the people we love best, Dante doesn’t give a fig. This is something that Dreher and other serious readers of Dante ought to know.” — Guy Raffa, What Rod Dreher Ought to Know about Dante and Same-Sex Love,” Pop Matters

Barry Strauss, The Death of Caesar (2015)

The Death of CaesarBarry Strauss‘s 2015 book, The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination, investigates Brutus’ assassination of Julius Caesar and how it has been viewed throughout history.

“How can we understand Brutus, a man who, so soon after stabbing Caesar in the name of stopping tyranny, had so reconciled himself to the ways of tyrants? Shakespeare, in the closing lines of ‘Julius Caesar,’ eulogized Brutus (through the words of his foe, Marc Antony) as ‘the noblest Roman of them all’ — the only conspirator moved by love of the Republic rather than envy of Caesar’s power. Dante, by contrast, in the final canto of Inferno, condemned Brutus to be forever chewed by Satan in the lowest circle of hell, alongside Cassius, his accomplice in the sin of betrayal, and Judas Iscariot.”    —The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Uber Reviews for Charon, Boatman of Hades

127 Fields of Punishment Ave.


“✩ ✩ ✩
He arrived on time, so three stars for that. But he was not very fun. I said, ‘Hey, Charon,’ and he got offended, saying, ‘It’s pronounced “Karen.” ‘ So I was, like, ‘Oh, my God! Shut up! My name is Karen!,’ and then he rolled his burning fire-eyes and melted into the ether and left me there in the middle of the River Styx. Rude.

Big surprise. Yet another service that won’t take me to Brooklyn.” –Cirocco Dunlap, The New Yorker

James Sewell Ballet, Inferno (2014)

ballet james sewell inferno

“Dante’s Inferno is the ­ultimate midlife crisis story.

“The Italian poet’s 14th-century epic confronts the dangerous path toward personal ruin but also rails against piety and greed in a fiery commentary, still relevant today, on the corrupting forces within religion, business and politics.

“On Friday night, James Sewell Ballet flung open the gates of hell and let its depraved denizens run wild at the Cowles Center. Who knows how Dante might have envisioned his poem brought to life, but this interpretation captures its disquieting spirit.” [ . . . ]

“There are clever moments including the descent into hell via New York City subway with damned souls as straphangers, a barb against resident Ayn Rand (‘nobody likes her’) and the swirling dances of those doomed to an eternity living out their lusts (this is an R-rated show by the way).”   –Caroline Palmer, “James Sewell Ballet’s Inferno,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 28, 2014

Contributed by Iris McComb (Bowdoin ’14)

Hipsters in Hell (2014)

hipsters webcomic vom baur
“The Hipsters in Hell storyline is the perfect way to end the series. Leo dies, and a distraught Nike charges through the gates of Hell to find him. What they discover is patterned after Dante’s Inferno, only specialized for hipsters. There are punishments for wearing vintage tees that were bought new and at full price — then lying that they were picked up at a thrift shop. Women who got those mustache tattoos on their fingers get tossed in a mud pit with the men for having ironic mustaches.”   –Larry Cruz, “I was into Hipsters before it got a book,” Comic Book Resources, May 21, 2014

Lost River (2014)

lost river gosling inferno picture“Lost River has been heavily influenced aesthetically by the work of Nicolas Winding Refn, Gosling’s favoured collaborator and director of Drive and Only God Forgives. It looks like something out of a style magazine with its heavy green and red tints.

“But for all the brilliance of the work of its cinematographer Benoit Debie (who shot Irreversible), the fact that the action is set in Detroit, the American city once famous for its cars but now celebrated for its abandoned buildings, seems at odds with Gosling’s criticism of America and its willingness to abandon its past and its people. It occasionally feels as though he is glamorising their misery.

“Recurring burning buildings, and even the occasional burning bicycle, establish Detroit as a place of purgatory and it’s on some lower level of Dante’s Inferno that Gosling has found his characters, the type usually found in the films of Dario Argento, Gaspar Noe and Nic Roeg.”   –Kaleem Aftab, “Lost River, Cannes film review: ‘Dazzling enough to delight Ryan Gosling fans’,” The Independent, May 20, 2014

The still featured above recalls the iconic entrance to Le Cabaret de L’Enfer, the hell-themed turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub featured on Dante Today here.

Field of Dogs (2014)

field of dogs poster

“Polish poet and filmmaker Lech Majewski is hard-pressed to follow The Mill and the Cross, his stirring 2011 recreation of Pieter Bruegel’s painting The Way to Calvary set in occupied Flanders of the 16th century, with an equally spell-binding subject. In Field of Dogs he exchanges the previous film’s broad historical and theological canvas for a less compelling tale of intimate personal suffering in the aftermath of a car accident. But admirers of erudite films will be comforted to find that Dante’s Divine Comedy provides the guiding thread through a gossamer narrative, one that fights a steep uphill battle to interest the viewer in the protagonist’s pain and redemption.”    –Deborah Young, “Field of Dogs: Filmart Review,” The Hollywood Reporter, March 27, 2014

Peter Mountford, The Dismal Science (2014)


“The mountain of Purgatory haunts the cover of Peter Mountford’s arresting second novel, The Dismal Science. The image, which calls to mind the second volume of The Divine Comedy, leads the reader into the book, the stark path curling its way up toward Terrestrial Paradise, symbolized by one lonely but verdant tree.

“Purgatory is the underlying structural metaphor of the novel; across its sweep, Vincenzo D’Orsi, the main character, will ascend the mountain as he tries to make sense of, and finally purge, the wreckage of his life.”    –Martha McPhee, “The Dismal Science, by Peter Mountford,” The New York Times, April 11, 2014