Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (1963)

 

“I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’…”  A reference to Pier delle Vigne, Inf. 13?

(Contributed by Lorenzo Hess, Bowdoin, ’23)

The Sandman and Dante’s Inferno

“The angelic appearance of Lucifer in Sandman #4 (April 1989), entitled ‘A Hope in Hell,’ features the Wood of Suicides from Dante’s Inferno (Canto XIII), the great expanse of which provokes comment from the titular character as he seemingly accidentally breaks a branch and allows the suicides, imprisoned in the form of barren trees, to speak. Despite this, the issue and The Sandman in general have more to do with previous DC comics than with Dante. Indeed, the issue features Etrigan, a colorful rhyming demon created by Jack Kirby for the inventively titled comic The Demon. At the issue’s conclusion, Lucifer swears Dream’s destruction, a move by writer Neil Gaiman to establish plot threads for subsequent issues.

[. . .]

Perhaps the inconsistency of Gaiman’s three versions of Lucifer should not surprise us. After all, Satan has always been a particularly malleable figure, changing even in his religious depictions over time. Huge gulfs exists between the serpent of Genesis, the prosecuting angel in Job, the Bible’s brief and vague references to a fallen angel, and the vaguely Manichean personification of evil in the New Testament, who were not even intended to be the same characters and were only united by exegetic interpretation. Equally, Dante’s bloated, immobile Satan is a world away from Milton’s deft, self-damned, self-hated rhetorical master.

In other words, Gaiman’s three Lucifers may not be consistent, but then, Lucifer never was.”    –Julian Darius, Sequart Organization, May 20, 2002

What Dante did with Loss by Jan Conn

What Dante Did With Loss is Jan Conn’s fourth book of poems. Central to this powerful new collection is a suite of poems charting the explosive emotions surrounding her mother’s suicide. Other poems range from meditations on South American flora and fauna to postmodern encounters with immortality.

“Jan Conn was brought up in Asbestos, Quebec. She now lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and works as a professor of Biomedical Sciences whose research is focused on mosquitoes, their evolution and ecology. She has published seven previous books of poetry.”    —Véhicule Press, 1998.

You can purchase Conn’s book of poetry through Véhicule Press or through Amazon.

“Wood of Suicides” Cake by Elisabete Caseiro

Wood-Suicides-Cake-Dantes-Inferno-Elisabete-Caseiro“This was the result of a challenge made by the fabulous Kevin Martin a while ago – to create a cake or sugar centerpiece inspired by Dante’s work Divine Commedy.

“This is my first international collaboration and I’m really thrilled to be part of it. Dante’s work was not very familiar to me so It was a great opportunity to learn more about it.

“My creation was inspired by the Wood of Suicides (Dante’s Inferno, Canto XIII, 7th Circle, 2nd Ring – Violence against themselves). The suicides occupy the circle of violence. Since they have ‘denied the God-given sanctity of their bodies on Earth,’ their souls are condemned to grow into anguished and gnarled trees or bush, into the Wood of Suicides. The souls of the Suicides endure further pain and torment due to the harpies (creatures with big wings, the head of a woman, feathered belly and claws on their feet) that inhabit the forest. These harpies nest in the forest, rend the branches of the trees and feast on their leaves, causing immense pain and making them bleed. This is the only time they can speak and express their pain.” — BetySugarland Cake Design by Elisabete Caseiro (Lisbon, Portugal), on cakesdecor.com

“Nel Mezzo”

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Nel Mezzo: A Little Trip through Dante’s Inferno
Contributed by Bryce Livingston

What Dreams May Come, 1998

What Dreams May ComeVincent Ward’s 1998 film, What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra, explores the after-life. The film’s protagonist, Chris Neilson, finds himself in heaven after death. His wife, Annie, has committed suicide and resides in hell; when Chris sets out to find her, he travels through a representation of the first seven circles of Dante’s Inferno.