“The literary appropriation of Dante over the last century has been enormous. His influence has been front and center in all major modern literary traditions—from T.S. Eliot to William Butler Yeats, from Albert Camus to Jean-Paul Sartre, from Jorge Luis Borges to Derek Walcott, from Giorgio Bassani to Giuseppe Ungaretti. Why such fascination? What are the textual characteristics of Dante’s Commedia that make it an ideal vehicle for literary appropriation, thereby allowing it to enjoy a sustained cultural afterlife? What, moreover, are the more accidental factors (e.g., taste, world view, political agenda, religious, and mystical convictions) which account for the popularity of Dante—after 300 years of neglect during which the Florentine poet was relegated to the shadows of Petrarch and his works—among artists, novelists, poets, playwrights, and cinematographers? This symposium, co-organized by Professor Massimo Ciavolella (Italian, UCLA), Professor Efraín Kristal (Comparative Literature, UCLA), and Heather Sottong (Italian, UCLA), considers these questions, concentrating on Dante’s influence in North America and especially in Latin America.” —UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, 2011
Donna Tartt, The Secret History (1992)
“On page 39, the Inferno is directly mentioned: ‘It’s the meter,’ said Francis, ‘Iambic trimeter. Those really hideous parts of Inferno, for instance, Pier de Medicina with his nose hacked off and talking though a bloody slit in his windpipe–‘ ‘ I can think of worse than that,’ Charles said. ‘So can I. But that passage is lovely and it’s because of the terza rima. The music of it. The trimeter tolls through that speech of Klytemnestra’s like a bell.’
“This was in reference to a quoted piece of the Oresteia in a classics class. The reference to the meter was to connect death and beauty, and ultimately make a statement pertinent to the subject of desire, specifically the desire to live forever. Earlier in the book, the professor teaching the classics class mentioned both Dante and Virgil by name when explaining subjects other than Greek that the students would be studying in his program.” –Contributor Alex Lee
Contributed by Robert Alex Lee (Florida State University, ’21)
Akash Kumar, “A Dante Who Valorizes Difference” (2020)
“Teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy in 2020 is not without its challenges. In 2012, the UN-sanctioned human rights organization Gherush92 proclaimed that Dante’s poem was discriminatory, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and should not be taught in classrooms. For some years now, I have taken this objection as my point of departure in crafting my Dante course and promoted a reading of the poem that interrogates issues of social justice with respect to the representation of religious and cultural difference, gender and sexuality, and social class. In the wake of a summer of protest, I felt all the more impelled to bring such considerations to bear in my Dante class this Fall. [. . .]” –Akash Kumar, “A Dante Who Valorizes Difference,” The Medieval Studies Institute Blog, Indiana University
Akash Kumar is Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Indiana University. Read his full essay on teaching Dante through the lens of social justice here.
“Will Coronavirus Continue to Hold SEC Football Hostage?”
“A fall without college football sounds like the wickedest episode of the ‘The Twilight Zone’ or maybe even one of Dante’s nine circles of Hell.” –Terry J. Wood, Fayetteville Flyer, July 28, 2020
“NSUI pays Tributes to Nasir Khan”
“NSUI and Congress state president Kuldeep Rathore paid tributes to student leader Nasir Khan on his 32nd death anniversary on Tuesday. The office-bearers and workers of the Congress, the Youth Congress and the NSUI wore black bands and observed a two-minute silence. Khan was assaulted in his hostel at Himachal Pradesh University, and was fatally injured. He died at the PGI on this day in 1988, and ever since the NSUI observes August 11 as ‘black day’.
[. . .]
A session on ‘The Writer’s Choice’ was organised by Belletristic, the literature society of the Department of English, at Shoolini University. Renowned Indian poet and author Keki Daruwalla spoke about Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Cantos of Inferno and also read out some of his own poems. He had imagined his recent Naishapur to Babylon, published in 2018, to be his last poetry book, but the pandemic-induced lockdown compelled him to write verse again. Prof Manju Jaidka, HoD, said this had helped re-discover the classics of literature, spread awareness and love for literature, particularly among youngsters, who have strayed away from books and authors because of many distractions.” —The Tribune, August 12, 2020
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