Ned Denny, B (After Dante) (2021)

“Gustave Doré’s Beatrice is disappointingly bland, a strapping damsel in a nightgown, not that fierce beauty whose name the poet can barely utter. His angels, however, are sublime. It was important to me that we have an uplifting image on the cover, Dante being so associated with the infernal regions and the austere features of his face (which the large B was originally to have overlaid). A comedy is, of course, a story that ends well, and what better end could there be than coming face to face with ‘eternal light’? Such is, moreover, the ‘joy that man is meant for.’

[. . .]

B was supposed to have come out in 2020, seven hundred years after the original’s probable 1320 completion (this latter number inscribing itself, miraculously, into the actual structure of the poem). Yet, happily perhaps, and due only to a delay in the editing process, it is instead appearing on the 700th anniversary of not only Dante’s death but the last Cathar’s prophecy – spoken from the flames – that ‘in seven hundred years the laurel will grow green again.’ It is also May, month of the Virgin, with the sun having just entered Gemini (Dante’s natal star and mine).”   —Ned Denny for Carcanet Press, describing B (After Dante), his 2021 translation/adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy

“Published to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, Ned Denny’s baroque, line-by-line reimagining – the follow-up to his Seamus Heaney Prize-winning collection Unearthly Toys – shapes the Divine Comedy into nine hundred 144-syllable stanzas. Audacious, provocative and eminently readable, tender and brutal by turns, rooted in sacred doctrine yet with one eye on the profane modern world, this poet’s version – in the interpretative tradition of Chapman, Dryden and Pope – is a living, breathing Dante for our times. Hell has never seemed so savage, nor heaven so sublime.”   —Carcanet Press

Purchase B (After Dante) from Carcanet Press here.

Read Denny’s full blogpost here.

Beatrice by William Dyce

“This painting was commissioned by [Dyce’s] friend, the Victorian prime minister WE Gladstone, a great Dante enthusiast. The model for Dante’s heroine was – at Gladstone’s request – Marian Summerhayes, an artist’s model and former prostitute “rescued” by the Liberal politician. It is possible that Dyce also used some photographic studies of the sitter to work from, which could explain the pensive stillness of his Beatrice, who is painted in three-quarter view and has a sculptured quality about it.

‘Dyce’s Beatrice sits serenely, her downcast eyes concentrating on something we cannot see within the picture space, thus elevating herself from this present to another time and place.” [. . .]    –Griffin Coe, The Guardian, May 3, 2021

This entry is part of the Guardian’s Great British Art Tour 2021

“Dante’s Inferno” at Kirkstall Forge

“This was the large shed to the south of the water and my position is a best guess, especially as this area is now flat. This shed contained several hammers but these two were hard at work and quite spectacular. I think they were of eastern European construction (possibly Polish). Although working on compressed air these were essentially the same as steam hammers.”    –Chris Allen, Geograph, February 17, 2010

The Leeds Dante Podcast

The [Leeds] Centre for Dante Studies runs a podcast, which can be subscribed to freely from anywhere in the world. The podcast is designed both to enrich undergraduates’ study of Dante, and to be of interest to a broader audience.

“The Leeds Dante podcast offers regular short items on three major areas:

  • Key Moments in the Commedia: a series of brief commentaries on short passages selected from the Commedia;
  • Interviews with scholars about their recent work on Dante;
  • Reviews of recent publications of interest in Dante studies.

“Individual talks and lectures held in Leeds are also made available for download.

“The podcast is available in MP3 format, and is freely available to listen to on your PC or portable device. You can also subscribe using iTunes.”   — Leeds Dante Podcast Homepage

Episodes can also be downloaded directly from the homepage here.

Dante Today readers will be especially interested in the “Conversations on Dante” series, which features discussions with scholars doing original research on Dante’s reception beyond the Middle Ages, and especially in contemporary culture. Kudos to our colleague Matthew Treherne (Univ. of Leeds) for his wonderful interviews and insightful discussions!

Dante’s Inferno: Too Darn Hot in Derby Trial

“The outstanding two-year-old of 2018 gets his first chance to show if he can be the outstanding three-year-old of 2019. We are set to learn plenty but one thing is clear – Too Darn Hot is returning in one darn hot Dante.

“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unbeaten son of Dubawi spent the winter dominating the 2,000 Guineas market after ending his juvenile season with the same Racing Post Rating posted by the mighty Frankel as a two-year-old. However, the runaway Dewhurst Stakes winner failed to make the Newmarket Classic.

“Instead, he makes a belated return as clear favourite for a wonderfully exciting Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes – but no longer as favourite for the Investec Derby.” […]    –Lee Mottershead and David Jennings, Racing Post, May 16, 2019

Review of “Caroline’s Bikini”: a Modern-Day Mash-Up of Dante, Milton and Metafiction

“Writing a book review about a novel that is about a book reviewer writing a novel, and that references the act of novel writing, often in footnotes, is the self-reflexive task of appraising Kirsty Gunn’s latest offering. A modern-day mash-up of Milton, metafiction and Dante, and of Renaissance swooning in Richmond, Caroline’s Bikini questions myth and reality through an exploration of the nature of fiction and the projection of love.

“Courtly love is the fabric on which this modern story is sewn. The book includes sections of Il Canzoniere, a sonnet sequence written by Petrarch after having fallen in love with a 14-year-old girl exiting a church. The 14th-century poet wrote yearningly about her for a period of 40 years without ever meeting her.” […]    –Rebecca Swirsky, New Statesman, June 27, 2018

From Dante to “I Love Dick”: 10 books about Unrequited Love

“Katherine Mansfield’s exquisite long short story At the Bay, Beryl, a middle-aged woman still fantasising about the young girl she once was and the lovers she could have captured then, stands in a darkened room half-imagining someone is out there in the dark, desiring her. So much of fiction is about desire, a yearning of some kind or another … the love of reading itself a sort of intense affair.

“These thoughts and more were whirling around in my mind when I wrote my own novel about unrequited love, Caroline’s Bikini, the story of middle-aged Evan’s great love for his landlady, the desirable but always just out of reach Caroline Beresford.

“The Divine Comedy by Dante- Dante follows hard on his heels, of course, and was writing before him – his Divine Comedy a kind of early novel, as I think of it, in three parts, that was inspired by a similar kind of experience. Dante never knew his Beatrice either, yet the idea of her propelled his great work about visiting Hell and Purgatory and Heaven, to be met there by her: another fantasy made true in words.” […]    –Kirsty Gunn, The Guardian, June 27, 2018

Dante’s Tour of Hell

“All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

“That’s the inscription on the gate to Hell in one of the first English translations of The Divine Comedy, by Henry Francis Cary, in 1814. You probably know it as the less tongue-twisting ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here,’ which is the epigraph for Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, hangs as a warning above the entrance to the Disney theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean, appears in the videogame World of Warcraft, and has been repurposed as a lyric by The Gaslight Anthem.

“But it’s just one line of the 14,233 that make up The Divine Comedy, the three-part epic poem published in 1320 by Florentine bureaucrat turned visionary storyteller Dante Alighieri. Literary ambition seems to have been with Dante, born in 1265, from early in life when he wished to become a pharmacist. In late 13th-century Florence, books were sold in apothecaries, a testament to the common notion that words on paper or parchment could affect minds with their ideas as much as any drug.” […]    –Christian Blauvelt, BBC, June 5, 2018

Review: Matthew Pearl’s “The Dante Chamber”

“In The Dante Chamber, Matthew Pearl’s new thriller — a sequel of sorts to his 2003 bestseller The Dante Club — murder takes a literary turn. Sparked by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the crimes are solved by a crack team of poets and painters: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson and the American doctor-poet-essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes (not to be confused with his son and namesake, the great Supreme Court justice).

“The murders take place in London in 1870. In the first murder, a member of Parliament is killed in a London park; a massive stone has inexplicably been tied around his neck and broken it. Soon thereafter an attractive woman dies on a London street; her eyelids have been sewn shut.

“Gabriel Rossetti, who was in the park during the first murder, disappears. His sister and friends fear for his safety, even as the police suspect he was the killer. Gabriel is fond of opiates and given to erratic behavior. When his wife died he impulsively had all his unpublished poems buried with her. Later, to the horror of many, he had them dug up.” […]    –Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post, June 1, 2018

Dante Festival: Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius win Yorkshire Cup

“It’s horses like Stradivarius that help to keep Frankie Dettori young – and racegoers demanding a flying dismount after every big race success.

“Now 47, and the fifth winning-most Flat jockey of all-time, no one is better on the big stage and, once again, he did not disappoint on the Knavesmire.

“And Dettori harbours hopes of landing the Ascot Gold Cup after conjuring a winning tune out of Stradivarius in yesterday’s Yorkshire Cup.

“The final day highlight of York’s Dante meeting, Dettori treated his opponents with near contempt as he won this prestigious prize for a fifth time.” […]    –Tom Richmond, Yorkshire Post, May 18, 2018