Reading Dante as a Feminist

“Classical literature has numerous inherent values and should still be extensively read by today’s readers. Still, despite my love for Dante, I would argue that it also essential to read classical literature with a critical eye, especially as our concepts of human rights and equality have greatly transformed since these works were written.

“Metamorphosis is traditionally typically about erotic, passionate love. Eros, this type of sinful love, is a subject that Dante explores extensively in the Divine Comedy. Dante studied Ovid extensively and engages with Ovid’s works in La Commedia. In his epic poem, Dante challenges Ovid and transfigures this process of transformation — often shaping metamorphoses into a perverted punishment of sin. Dante explicitly uses metamorphosis as a cruel, twisted form of punishment. Thieves transform into snakes and those who committed suicide are perversely turned into bushes and trees. Further parallels to Ovid can be drawn in Dante’s hell. Daphne was rendered a tree for all eternity — just as those in the circle of suicide were cruelly revoked from their human form.

“In the Inferno, the circle of Lust is predominantly full of women, including Cleopatra, Dido, Helen of Troy and Francesca. Though Dante engages with a few famous male literary characters — such as Paris and Achilles — in this circle, Francesca gives the longest soliloquy. Francesca is one of the few women in La Commedia to be given so many lines, and yet her identity and actions are tied to two male figures. Francesca was killed by her husband when he caught her having an affair with her brother. Dante portrays Francesca as a beautiful, gentle seductress–even the poet temporarily succumbs to her enchanting words. Although Francesca’s story provides interesting commentary on the constraints of love and society, it is unfortunate that Francesca is one of the only dominant female voices in the Inferno. Dante’s work would be more nuanced if he developed other female characters whose roles were not tied to lust and sexual temptation. ” […]    –Sophie Stuber, The Stanford Daily, June 4, 2018

 

‘Dante’s Inferno isn’t hot enough for you,’ says judge

“STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Earlier this month, Anthony Morales admitted to slaying a neighbor and her son on a Mariners Harbor street two years ago.

“But the stocky 51-year-old defendant didn’t apologize for their deaths at his sentencing on Wednesday. Instead, Morales presented himself as the victim, claiming the decedents had harassed and tormented ceaselessly over the years, had followed him to a home he owned in Pennsylvania and had ‘come looking for’ him on the day they died.

“State Supreme Court Justice Mario F. Mattei listened patiently to Morales’ rambling seven-minute monologue in his St. George courtroom packed with the victims’ distraught relatives. And when Morales finally sat down, the judge didn’t mince words or hide his disdain.” […]    –Frank Donnelly, SiLive, May 30, 2018

BenDeLaCreme’s Rising Up Into Dante’s Inferno Down Below

“I must confess, and not in a catholic kind of way, because that kind of on your knees religion has nothing to do with the uproarious show, BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno-a-Go-Go currently damning us all to hell at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen, naturally. But it does have a lot of a lot to say about the other kind of on-your-knees kinda praying. My confession revolves around the simple fact that I do not watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, nor have I ever heard of one of the most well known contestants, the heavenly smart and witty BenDeLaCreme, the creator/performer/writer and all around mastermind of the show.  I only came to this show because one of my best friends was sitting next to me when I got the press invite, and he squealed like an excited pig when I asked him if I ever heard of a creature called BenDeLaCreme. (I can write this statement, because I’m pretty darn sure he’ll never read this review as there are just far too many words for his liking.)” […] –Ross, Times Square Chronicles, May 25, 2018

Bryan Waring’s guide through Dante’s Inferno

“Picture yourself in a dark castle high upon the Scottish hillside, as you rest comfortably in a tall red velvet chair alongside Dracul-the Master of Ceremonies. Sounds gothic? Bryan Waring’s senior composition on Sunday, April 15, 2018 fulfilled a partial degree requirement for Bachelor of Music Performance. The eerie theatrical program was “a pleasant surprise,” says Waring’s mother, Bonnie. The Corthell Concert Hall located on the woodsy USM Gorham campus was the quintessential location befitting the hellish operatic overtones that played into the night from 8 p.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m.

“With friends, family and 35 supporting musicians at his fingertips, Waring directed his show through the gates of hell into Dante’s Inferno, the prevailing theme. In a pre-performance interview Waring made it clear that his intentions to include “elements of opera, death, Broadway, rock and roll, and jazz” for the subliminal background connected the “nine Circles of Hell.” It’s tempting not to label the recital as a play or concert since a few pieces of music involved at least five other instruments in addition to a piano or two. Vocals were exchanged between a chorus and a quintet as Waring made a ghostly passing through Circle I-Limbo into Circle V-Wrath.” […]    –Jamela Lewis, The Free Press, April 22, 2018

President Obama Compares Election to Dante’s Inferno

“At his final state dinner Tuesday, President Barack Obama compared the current presidential election to a trip through hell.

“Obama, who was hosting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, used a classic work of Italian literature to draw the comparison. ‘Some days our presidential campaign can seem like Dante’s Inferno,’ President Obama said in reference to the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to the Washington Post. The rest of the speech celebrated the relationship between the U.S. and Italy.” […]    –Daniel White, TIME, October 19, 2016

“The Circles of American Financial Hell”

Circles-American-Financial-Hell-Atlantic“As people move up the income ladder, they escape material shortages and consume more. They have ‘things’—goods, houses, and, most importantly, education—to show for their higher earnings, but they do not have healthy finances. Having those ‘things’ is of course an improvement over not having them, but only for the very, very rich (or the very, very unusual) is there any real escape from the pressure-cooker of American household finances.” — Rebecca J. Rosen, “The Circles of American Financial Hell,” The Atlantic (May 5, 2016)

Louise Glück, “From a Journal” (2001)

The-Seven-Ages-Louise-Gluck“From a Journal”

I had a lover once,
I had a lover twice,
easily three times I loved.
And in between
my heart reconstructed itself perfectly
like a worm.
And my dreams also reconstructed themselves.

After a time, I realized I was living
a completely idiotic life.
Idiotic, wasted—
And sometime later, you and I
began to correspond, inventing
an entirely new form.

Deep intimacy over great distance!
Keats to Fanny Brawne, Dante to Beatrice—

[. . .]

“From a Journal” is from Louise Glück’s 2001 collection The Seven Ages. It was published by HarperCollins.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University, 2018)

Tasha Mack, Angel & Dante: A Dopeboy Love Story (2017)

Angel+Dante-Tasha-MackWhile the connection to Dante Alighieri isn’t explicit, the pairing of the two protagonists in the novel, Angel and Dante, has a “heaven and hell” resonance to it. Here is the synopsis of the novel, from Amazon.com: “The young, intelligent, & beautiful Angel Harris swore off men after a traumatic experience left her wanting to end her life. She found love in the arms of her new partner, Courtney. Things in the relationship were peaches & cream until Angel crossed paths with Dante Johnson.

“Dante Johnson, better known to the streets as Duke, was one of Atlanta’s most notorious kingpins. Duke was used to having women flock to him and be at his beck and call, until he met Angel. Angel was like a breath of fresh air to him with her charismatic personality and she helped him go escape the drugs, crimes, & promiscuous women in the Atlanta streets. Dante proved that he would do anything to make Angel his, even flaunt her around town with his fiancé Arianne at home.

“Arianne Thomas thinks that she has found her meal ticket out of the hood after she pops up pregnant with Dante’s baby. She is on cloud nine, until she finds out about Dante’s new love interest. Arianne will stop at nothing to protect what she feels is rightfully hers.” — Amazon.com

Wallace Zane, Taxi Inferno (2014)

Taxi InfernoA death and violence, deceit and fraud, cab-driving, police-chasing translation of Dante’s Inferno.

“Set in the hellish world of cab-driving in Los Angeles in the year 2000, Taxi Inferno is an idiomatic interpretation/translation and transposition of Inferno. In place of Dante walking through hell with Virgil as the guide, the author is driving a cab in LA with Charles Bukowski. The narrative is shot through with the feel of dim and smoky death and the thrall of disgust that impels one on, as is Dante’s.

Taxi Inferno is written as a mirror image of Inferno. Virgil becomes less competent the deeper into hell they go; Bukowski becomes more so, and even heroic in his guidance. Each location in Los Angeles compares with one of the circles of hell, corresponding to Dante’s description of the terrain and its punishments.”    —Amazon.com

Contributed by Wallace Zane

Donna Distefano “Elixir of Love” ring and “The Love that Moves the Sun and the Other Stars” ring

 

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“Our 22 karat gold and ruby Elixir of Love ring can hold your tiniest possessions. The griffin was a legendary creature with the body of lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The combination indicates both intelligence and strength. The griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature, renowned for guarding treasures and other priceless possessions. Our griffin is carrying a Maltese cross which is considered a symbol of protection and a badge of honor representing loyalty, generosity, bravery, and helpfulness towards others. In Dante’s Divine Comedy Beatrice takes off into the Heavens to begin Dante’s journey through paradise on a flying Griffin that moves as fast as lightning.”    —Donna Distefano

See also this brief video where she discusses a ring named “The Love that Moves the Sun and the Other Stars,” which was inspired by elements within the final cantos of Paradiso (the celestial rose, Mary), and the number 33.  In Style magazine did a piece on it, too.

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