Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen”

Paris-Review-Karl-Ove-Knausgaard-Letter-From-Osterlen-Dante“I think Harold Bloom was right when he wrote that Dante was not a Christian poet. It is something else. That said, The Divine Comedy doesn’t end in Lucifer’s maw at the bottom of hell; the journey continues, out on a sea, onto a beach, up a mountain, and out into the heavens. The division of hell into circles, zones, and specific places for specific sins can seem like a bureaucratic perversion of sorts, order baring its teeth in the most twisted manner, but hell must also be understood in relation to its opposite, heaven and all that is good, whose image is light that knows no limits, but floats unhindered and limitless over everything. The good is open and devoid of difference, evil confined and closed upon itself. What makes Dante difficult to grasp is that this is a system humans find themselves in, it is inflicted on them from outside. Both the limiting darkness and the inverse limitless light are steadfast and constant, one marking our connection to the animal and mute biology, the other our entryway to the divine, while man himself arises from something else, his individuality, which is peculiar to each.” — Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen,” The Paris Review (December 1, 2014), 199-208

Tage Danielsson, “Mannen Som Slutade Roka” (“The Man Who Quit Smoking”) (1972)

tage-danielsson-mannen-som-slutade-roka-the-man-who-quit-smoking-1972“Young Dante Alighieri inherits 17 million of his father the sausage maker on one condition – he has to give up smoking in 14 days. But the days go on and he simply can’t quit. He hires a detective agency to physically stop him. He has an uncle, who inherits the money if Dante fails, and the uncle tries to keep him smoking.”    –Mattias Thuresson, IMDb

Viewing the process as a kind of personal hell, this Dante has much in common with his Florentine namesake – including a love interest named Beatrice.

Decadence, “Decadence” (2005)

decadence-decadence-2005 The first track on this Swedish band’s self-titled debut album is called “Wrathful and Sullen,” the lyrics of which allude to the punishment of those immersed in the Styx.

“Inferno & Paradiso” a photojournalistic exhibit in South Africa (2001)

inferno-paradiso-photojournalistic-exhibit-in-south-africa

“. . .World renowned artist/photographer Alfredo Jaar curated this show which is presented as a collaboration between the SANG, the BildMuseet in Umea, Sweden, and Riksutstallningar, the Swedish Travelling Exhibitions Organisation. His curatorial method was this: ‘I invited 18 photojournalists from around the world to contribute two images to the exhibition (inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy). For ‘Inferno’ I asked them to select the single image that was the most difficult to produce, the one that caused the most pain and anguish. And for ‘Paradiso’, the most joyful one, the one that has given them the most happiness in the world.’ ”
–Sue Williamson, Art Throb

Contributed by Charlie Russell (Bowdoin, ’08)