On NBC's Today Show the correspondent from Rome mentions that this is first resignation of a Pope since Celestine V in 1294, who Dante may have been indicating when he referred to the sinner among the Undecided (Inferno 3) who made the "great refusal."
Many other reporters and commentators discussing Benedict XVI's resignation are also mentioning Dante's supposed (but debated among scholars) placement of Celestine V in Hell. See, for example, Carol Zaleski's piece in the New York Times, February 11, 2013.
Contributed by Julie Heyman
"Inferno, Dan Brown's new book about Dante, is coming out on May 14, 2013 from Doubleday in the U.S., and Transworld Publishers in the UK (a division of Random House). Brown announced that he was writing something new in May 2012. Though Brown had been cryptic about the topic of the book, he has now revealed more information. The book will again feature The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol's lead character Robert Langdon. Brown also noted on The Today Show that it 'will be set in Europe, in the most fascinating place I've ever seen' (we're guessing Florence, Italy since that's where Dante wrote, and Florence's Duomo church features on the cover of the book). Transworld's press release for the book relates a bit more: the book will revolve around one of 'history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces' (we're assuming Dante's Divine Comedy, with a focus on the Inferno portion, due to the title of the book)." [...]
"The title was announced this morning on The Today Show. Readers were invited to participate in the unveiling of the title by posting on Facebook or tweeting, using the hashtag #DanBrownToday that they were helping unveil the title of Dan Brown's newest book. These readers' profile pictures then claimed a tile in a mosaic. After enough readers contributed their title suggestions, the new title was revealed. Even if you've never read a Dan Brown book, you can guess that the man really enjoys his puzzles." [...]
Zoe Triska, The Huffington Post, January 15, 2013
Dante's "Nine circles of Hell" list is #14, which links to Guy Raffa's Danteworlds page.
Whole list here.
Gary Belsky, The New Yorker, December 26, 2012
Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin '08)
"Hell is steadily losing adherents. The Infernal Tourist Board (chief field-researchers Dante Alighieri and John Milton) has therefore produced a promotional flyer..."
-Chez Tantalus: See your dinner hover over you, but never quite get close enough to eat!
-Bar Lethe: A popular, even crowded, establishment, despite the slow and surly service of barmaid Medusa. You'll soon forget everything, including why you came."
-Holes of the Simoniacs: Dive head-first into these funnels of fun, and let a devil set the soles of your feet on fire!
-The Sacks@Malebolge: Ten delightful mini-ditches in the trendy 8th Circle, specially designed for liars and flatterers. Enjoy an in-room massage from attentive demons."
The Economist, December 22, 2012
Contributed by Guy Raffa
"You could argue that the fundamental question behind all literature is: 'What does it mean to be human?' Some people have even argued that storytelling itself is what makes us more than just monkeys with iPhones -- that Homer created the modern consciousness, or that Shakespeare (as Harold Bloom has it) invented the human identity. In recent years, however, literature has lost a lot of ground on that score to evolutionary psychology, neurobiology and computer science, and particularly to the efforts of artificial intelligence researchers. So as we wait for the Singularity, when our iPhones will become sentient and Siri will start telling us what we can do for her, many of the savvier fiction writers have begun to come to grips with the fact that the tutelary spirit of the quest for the human may not be Dante or Emily Dickinson or Virginia Woolf, but Alan Turing, the British mathematician who helped start the revolution in computing. " [...]
James Hynes, "Fooled You: A Working Theory of Love," by Scott Hutchins" The New York Times, November 21, 2012
"A COLLEGE education aims to guide students through unfamiliar territory -- Arabic, Dante, organic chemistry -- so what was once alien comes to feel a lot less so. But sometimes an issue starts so close to home that the educational goal is the inverse: to take what students think of as familiar and place it in a new and surprising light." [...]
Ethan Bronner, "Asian-Americans in the Argument," The New York Times, November 1, 2012
[...] "Bang worked on the project for six years after being inspired by Caroline Bergvall's poem, Via (48 Dante Variations), which is composed entirely of those first three lines from 47 different translations.
" 'How might the lines sound if I were to put them into colloquial English? What if I were to go further and add elements of my own poetic style?' Bang writes in her note on the translation. 'Would it sound like a cover song, the words of the original unmistakably there, but made unfamiliar by the fact that someone else's voice has its own characteristics? Could it be, like covers sometimes are, a tribute that pays homage to the original, while at the same time radically departing from it?' " [...]
Mike Melia, PBS Newshour, November 2, 2012
See the whole interview
Contributed by Julie Heyman
"Dante's Tenth Circle"
by Deborah Tennen
In Ravenna, Italy, archivists recently discovered a lost canto of Dante's Inferno -- what appears to be the tenth circle of Hell. The ninth circle was previously understood to be the lowest point of Hell reached by Dante and his guide Virgil before ascending on their journey toward Paradise. A portion of the 14th-century manuscript, translated into English prose, is reproduced below.
"Virgil," I cried, "Those shades--burning, immersed in human excrement, trapped in icy waters. I thought I had witnessed the basest of all sinners. So who are these figures I now see? Do my eyes betray me, or are their heads fully absorbed in the derrières of others? And who are these individuals whose bottoms are swollen due to the immense size of the heads there immersed?" [...]
McSweeney's Internet Tendency, October 25, 2012
Contributed by Steve Bartus (Bowdoin, '07)
[...] "As for Palahniuk's novels, 11 of which I have edited and published, all of them have made me laugh so hard that I always keep my asthma inhaler at the ready as I edit them. Survivor, his unnerving pre-9/11 airliner hijacking novel, is one of my very favorites, and his latest book -- the Judy Blume-meets-Dante-meets-"The Breakfast Club" mash-up Damned -- is, to repurpose Almond's final words, enthralling and disgusting (in a good way, of course)." [...]
Gerald Howard, Letter to the editor, The New York Times, October 12, 2012
I followed the crowd down Fernberg Road onto Boys St where men in suits and shining shoes were selling stars. At first I did not know that was what they were doing. One suited man stood on a soapbox. The others sat behind a row of telescopes and their index fingers directed eyes about the firmament. I thought they were an astronomy club. But people were writing cheques; and a great celestial map clipped to an escritoire had pins and pen-marks all over it. Then I realised the man on the soapbox was conducting an auction.
I saw the weakest star of the Cross go for $100 000; someone whispered to the effect that he had bought the four major ones and was not greatly attached to this last only he needed it to complete the piece.
"What would the Cross be without it?" said the auctioneer to encourage the man through the bidding. The man intended the famed constellation for a light-feature in his garden. I felt a little sad for the ghosts of Cook and Magellan, lost upon dark waters below a bewildering sky.
In the background a ruckus was being subdued by the agency. Two men and an agent were fighting. It seemed the first star Dante saw when he emerged from the Inferno had been sold in a previous lot and there was a dispute over its authenticity. The agent was trying to reassure the man that though Florence was indeed in the Northern hemisphere, Dante had walked down through the Earth and emerged on the other side. The man's companion was showing the agent Canto XXXIV and the line where Dante mysteriously turns back in space and for a while believes he is going deeper into the pit.
...so the night proceeded and all the stars were sold. One by one.
The final lot was a small fleck of a star, barely visible and only now toward three o'clock in winter. By this time there was little money or interest left in the auction. The auctioneer began the lot sheepishly at a thousand dollars. I put up my hand amidst the scattering, disinterested crowd and said "Ten". The auctioneer laughed. He looked around the dispersing crowd and laughed again, but his confidence was gone.
"It's a star, you realize?"
"I know," I said, stepping closer to the soapbox. "It's worth much more, but ten is all I have."
The auctioneer scowled:
"I'd buy it myself if I had anywhere to put it."
Reluctantly he re-started the auction. He called "Ten dollars" three drawn out times and disgustedly brought the hammer down.
"I expect you can arrange finance."
I handed him the ten-dollar note.
"Now, where do you want it delivered?"
"I don't. Leave it where it is."
"But it's your star. You've bought it!" He held a contract up to my face as proof.
"I know. Only, leave it where it is. I like it there."
I signed the contract and the auctioneer walked away shaking his head.
An energetic few had already set about taking down their new possessions. The Cross was gone to the rich man's garden. The man who bought Dante's star had it on the pavement, looking at it suspiciously where it burned as hot as a con. He was threatening to default on the deposit.
I always liked the smallest stars, anyway, I told myself: the ones that show the reality of the dark as well as the possibility of light. Perhaps tomorrow I would stay up late again and see my star rise alone in the east
Patrick Holland, ABC Pool (radio), 2009
[...] "In a way, I've spent my whole life training for it," Mr. James said. He first fell in love with "The Divine Comedy" in Florence in the 1960s, when the scholar Prue Shaw, who was then his girlfriend and is now his wife, read romantic passages aloud to him from Canto 5 of the "Inferno" in the original Italian. [...]
[...] "Dante is very compact, and there's so much going on in a tight space that you'd swear you were reading a modern poet," Mr. James continued. "The temptation for any Italian poet is just outright lyricism, because the language is so beautiful. But Dante is never beautiful for its own sake, and every sentence, every line, is loaded with incident and meaning and wordplay." [...]
Sarah Lyall, The New York Times, October 7, 2012
Run by Architect Rudy Ricciotti
Éditions Al Dante
Background Image: Domenico di Michelino, Dante and His Comedy, 1465