COVID-19 and Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is undeniably a timeless classic. Its grand adventure through the nine gates of hell sparks readers with life and interest. It seems like an out-of-place work for a description of our chaotic times, but I believe it is a lot more relatable to us than we might think in the most unlikely of ways. So what can readers take from this classic besides grand allusions to the past?

“Perhaps it is with the old that we can come to better understand the new. Perhaps we can come to a new perspective on the world and its isolated communication due to COVID-19 through this classic. Much like we are now, venturing alone except through the cyberways of technological communication or daily filial visits, Dante with his guide Virgil treaded a path of darkness to the center of hell to understand and experience the dark side of the world. We too traverse a pathway of ‘hell’ not a literal one, of course, but rather a figurative pathway of undiscovered and problematic turmoil for the human condition.”   –Jayden Montalvo, Johns Hopkins Newsletter, 2020

Read the full article here.

“Great Moments in PC Gaming: Guiding Noobs Through a Co-Op Session”

“We were all that noob at some point. I have fond memories of a friend convincing me to give Halo a shot in co-op, him playing Master Chief and me playing his buddy, ‘The Spartan Who Disappears During Cutscenes.’ The first time I tried Portal 2‘s multiplayer mode it was at a gaming bar with an engineering student who, even drunk, knew everything there was to know about thinking with portals. Being able to return these favors by acting as Virgil to someone else’s Dante—except instead of the nine circles of Hell, it’s Borderlands 2 or whatever—feels like paying the experiences forward, ensuring some kind of cosmic scale is balanced.”    –Jody Macgregor, PC Gamer, August 15, 2020

“I’m not Dante, and you’re not Vergilius” – Resident Evil: Revelations

“You said yourself, ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’ But I’m not Dante, and you’re not Vergilius.”

Learn more about Capcom’s 2012 video game Resident Evil: Revelations here.

“Alasdair Gray’s Translation of Dante’s Purgatory

“Following on from his translation of Hell (published last year), Alasdair Gray has turned his attention to the second part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Unlike Lanark, Gray’s epic debut novel from 1981, Purgatory is a short read at around 130 pages. It is divided into 33 cantos – essentially chapters – each of which are divided in turn into three-line stanzas. The plot is linear: guided by the poet Virgil, Dante must ascend Mount Purgatory in order to be reunited with his love Beatrice. Along the way, he encounters the poor souls forced to linger in heaven’s waiting room until they are cleansed of their earthly sins. As in Hell, the narrative is littered with historical figures, for instance ‘Cato, Caesar’s foe, who stabbed himself / rather than see the Roman Empire kill / the glorious Republic that he loved.’ Reading Purgatory, written in the early 14th century, it is easy to see the crucial role Dante played in the Renaissance, when Italian artists rediscovered the glories of antiquity.”    –Chris Dobson, The Herald, November 17, 2019

Check out our original post on Alasdair Gray’s Hell here.

La Porta dell’Inferno – Beyond the Gate

“After Beyond the Castle’s success, we embarked in a new project that celebrates Italian culture. Together with the most prestigious school of Milan, the Collegio San Carlo, we created a new virtual reality experience that focuses on Dante’s Divine Comedy. In The Hell’s Gate students can embody Dante and walk through the dark forest. This will allow them to approach this masterpiece in an innovative and engaging way.”    —Beyond the Gate, 2019

“9 Times Marilyn Manson Was the Greatest Rockstar in Any Circle of Hell”

“Marilyn Manson, the man and his eponymous band, brought darkness back into the spotlight in the early ‘90s. Achieving popularity without a scalp scraped by butterfly clips or an official Pog line, Manson became the new face of fear. Fear of violence, sex, vulgarity, drugs, and most crucially Satanism. He was hailed by fans of alternative music, and reviled by the mainstream, as the self-styled Antichrist Superstar. Just like mythical depictions of the Anti-Christ, Manson has a silver (forked) tongue and an intelligence that few can comprehend. He is a cause for parents to fear their teenager’s headphones, coiled around their babies like the snake in Eden.

[. . .]

In Manson, no creative force has brought such a vivid and lyrical depiction of Hell since Dante’s Inferno, the first part of the fourteenth-century epic poem Divine Comedy. The band’s back catalogue gives as nuanced and sprawling a Hell as Dante, taking listeners through all nine circles. Whereas Dante’s guide was Roman Poet Virgil, ours is the icon formally known as Brian Warner.”    –Daniel Wylie, What Culture, August 10, 2020

“The Most Harrowing Paintings of Hell Inspired by Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s depiction of the afterlife has inspired generations of readers since the Divine Comedy was first published in 1472. In the 14,233 verses of this poem, Dante envisions a trip to the afterlife, guided first by the Roman poet Virgil, who leads him through Hell and Purgatory, and then by his beloved Beatrice, who leads him through Paradise. His detail-rich descriptions of Hell, envisioned as nine concentric circles containing souls of those “who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen,” have inspired artists for the last five centuries. Here are some of the most poignant visualizations of Dante’s Inferno.

[. . .]

Stradanus, Canto VIII (1587-1588)

Flemish painter Jan van der Straet, known by his Italian name ‘Stradanus,’ completed a series of illustrations of the Divine Comedy between 1587 and 1588, currently preserved at the Laurentian Library in Florence. This illustration refers to Canto VIII, where the wrathful and slothful are punished. Stradanus combines elements of Italian Mannerism, such as painstaking attention to detail, with distinctive Flemish traits like the physiognomy of the demonic figure steering Dante’s boat, who shows a deeply harrowing expression.”    –V. M. Traverso, Aleteia, July 17, 2020

“The Divine Comedy of The House That Jack Built

“After being banned from the Cannes Film Festival and finishing his Depression Trilogy, Lars von Trier returned from a five-year hiatus with The House That Jack Built. The film follows a sadistic, failed architect named Jack (Matt Dillon) who recalls his murders to the ancient Roman poet Virgil (Bruno Ganz), as the pair make their way through Hell. To Virgil’s disgust, Jack sees these incidents as misunderstood works of art.

When the film premiered at Cannes, it prompted a one-hundred-person walkout and a ten-minute standing ovation. While the festival is known for its dramatic receptions, The House That Jack Built is, indeed, a polarizing film. It’s is either the nail in the coffin for von Trier’s career or the darkest comedy of 2018. Depends on who you ask.
As Ryan Hollinger puts it in the video essay belowThe House That Jack Built is what you get when you give a serial killer two and a half hours to gush about how great they are. On paper that sounds like a recipe for disaster. But on the screen, the iffy conceit materializes as a mocking character study of the kind of ego-trip that thinks it’s so charming and clever that it can get away anything.
Ultimately, The House that Jack Built is a film that turns a monster into a punchline. And if you let go of seriousness and pretension, the film reveals itself as an absurd, self-effacing, and divinely funny comedy.”    –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, July 25, 2020
Check out our original post on The House that Jack Built (2018) here.

Dan Christian and Alex DeWeese on Inf. 2 for “Canto per Canto”

“Something extraordinary about Dante is his ability to talk to anyone. In different languages, at different times, in different contexts, we are all here because Dante has put us in conversation with one another. This specific conversation on Inferno 2 celebrates the encounter of two generations: a former high school teacher, Dan Christian, and a former student of his, Alex DeWeese, whom Dante has once again reunited. Let Dante continue to create networks, let Dante work his magic over and over again: buona visione!” – Maria Zilla

Listen to/watch “Inferno 2: ‘A Thundering Velvet Hand: Virgil’s Teaching Strategy” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Dante. The Vision of Art Exhibition

“The Uffizi is providing Dante-centric artworks for the major exhibition Dante. The Vision of Art held in Forlì from March 12 to July 4, 2021.

The show is part of the nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, but also aims to symbolize the rebirth of Italy and the art world.

The project is based on an idea by Eike Schmidt, director of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, and Gianfranco Brunelli, director of major exhibitions of the Fondazione Cassa dei Risparmi di Forlì, while Professors Antonio Paolucci and Professor Fernando Mazzocca are the show curators. The decision to hold the exhibition in Forlì is part of an overall strategy to promote the area that acts as a natural bridge between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. Dante sought refuge in Forlì in the Autumn of 1302 after leaving Arezzo. The poet stayed with the city’s noble ruling family, the Ordelaffi, for more than a year.

Several works will be loaned to Forlì by the Uffizi, including Andrea del Castagno’s portraits of Dante and Farinata degli Uberti, which are not usually not public view in Florence, given their placement in the San Pier Scheraggio church, which is where the council met on which Dante once served. A second Dante portrait, by Cristofano dell’Altissimo, will be displayed in the Forlì exhibition. Pontormo’s Exile from Paradise and a Michelangelo’s drawing depicting a doomed man in Divine Comedy’s Inferno, in addition to a selection of fine sketches by Federico Zuccari for the 500th illustrated edition of the text. Other highlights include a marble bust of Virgil by the eighteenth-century sculptor Carlo Albacini, and the nineteenth-century canvas by Tuscan proto-romantic Nicola Monti, titled Francesca da Rimini in the Inferno.”    –Editorial Staff, The Florentine, July 10, 2020