"The story follows Mr. DeWine, a high school civics teacher looking for the love that will bring meaning to his middle years, and the two alienated students who plot death, havoc, and woe." (Fantastic Fiction) The first reference is to the two high school boys who shoot up the school as "founding members of the ninth circle." (Abbott) The second reference is made by Mr. DeWine as he notes a student's inscription on a desk in his classroom, '"Abandon all hope," someone has scribbled. Dante-what a bozo. Blame the whole fiasco on Beatrice.' (Abbott) This reference foreshadows the outcome of the story.
Contributed by Katie Tiller (University of Texas at Austin)
"...Though brief, this is an ambitious book, offering insightful readings of authors including Homer, Dante, Descartes and Kant, as well as the novelists Herman Melville and David Foster Wallace. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly believe that great books are the "gathering places" where the major forces of a culture are focused, and so they are able to chart our descent from Homer's gratitude before many gods to Wallace's paralysis before a plethora of choices...
"Great books are there to reconnect us. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly admire Dante's focus on the saving power of various forms of desire, but find that his ultimate emphasis on the overwhelming bliss of contemplating God "makes all other earthly joys irrelevant." Dante's achievement turns out to be "not the answer to nihilism but another step in its direction." Similarly, the philosophical focus after Descartes and Kant is on the autonomous self as the basis for knowledge, but the authors explore how the idea of a human subject able to bestow meaning on inert objects winds up undermining our openness to the world..."
Michael Roth, The New York Times, January 3, 2011
Contributed by Leslie Morgan (Loyola University)
Book Hunter's Holiday: Dante Alighieri
See the back story of owner Christine Lowenstein's collection of Dante books
"...Associate professor of English Steven Olsen-Smith is a leader in that scholarly community. He is the primary researcher responsible for tracking the recovery of Melville's dispersed personal library of around 1,000 books and serves as general editor of Melville's Marginalia Online, a long-term project devoted to the editing and publication of markings and annotations in the books that survive from Melville's library.
"Olsen-Smith recently borrowed Melville's copy of Dante's "Divine Comedy" from collector William Reese as part of the Marginalia project's pending transition to a new digital format that will display photographic images of marked and annotated books with commentary on their significance to Melville's writings. The book will be on campus through March 31, and Olsen-Smith's student interns currently are working to catalog notations and recover erasures...
"Melville marked subject matter dealing with issues of free will and fate, original sin and divine justice, and aspects of subject matter and rhetoric that relate to the book's epic character," Olsen-Smith said. "It is clear Melville read and marked the book at different points throughout his life, and the interns are identifying parallels between the marginalia to Dante and subject matter in his writings..."
Erin Ryan, March 31, 2010 Boise State University Update
See also: http://www.boisestate.edu/melville/
Contributed by Patrick Molloy
The protagonist of the novel, Paul, names a book of poetry after his girlfriend, Beatrice La Dulce Shaliqua Schneck "and after Dante's muse, presumably because he, too, was a poet who made his fame in hell."
Fiona Maazel, The New York Times, March 18, 2010
"Evil Diva is a webcomic about a young devil who becomes a superhero. With the help of "Mr. Virgil," Diva learns how to control her powers and find her place among the forces of good and evil. Dante appears in the sporadic mini-comics entitled "(Really) Old Man Adventures" as well as in some of the other sketch comics on the site. A four part series in the "(Really) Old Man Adventures" reinterprets and illustrates early parts of the Inferno and references the Vita Nuova."
Contributed by Michelle Scharlock (McGill University)
"Today Random House announced the April 13 publication of Beatrice & Virgil, a new novel from Canadian author Yann Martel--his first since the surprise 2002 hit Life of Pi. The book was previously scheduled for a summer release.
"Few details are available, though Amazon has this description:
'A famous author receives a mysterious letter from a man who is a struggling writer but also turns out to be a taxidermist, an eccentric and fascinating character who does not kill animals but preserves them as they lived, with skill and dedication -- among them a howler monkey named Virgil and a donkey named Beatrice.'
"The animal characters and the names Virgil and Beatrice, drawn from Dante's Divine Comedy, hint at a Pi-like aesthetic for the new book, which has also been described as an allegory for the Holocaust. Jamie Byng, the Managing Director at Martel's Canadian publisher, Canongate, acknowledged the difficulty of following up a book like Pi but promises that 'Yann has risen to the challenge by writing another exceptional novel, a wildly imaginative and multi-layered story that engrosses from the first page.' "
The Book Case, December 10, 2009
Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, '08)
Between Here and April, a novel by Deborah Copaken Kogan, is an allegory of the Inferno. The middle-aged female protagonist "falls" into darkness at the beginning, but, being female, she has no Virgil to guide her. Dr. Karen (Charon) Rivers (Styx) is there to guide her to the underworld (her subconscious.) Each character she meets while researching the death of her friend at the hand of her mother represents a new circle of hell. (Mavis/lust & gluttony; Trudy/hoarders & wasters; etc.)
See more here
"To Join the Lost, a book to be published May 15, 2010, is a poetic re-visiting of the first canticle of Dante's grand tour. Conceived as an homage to Dante, it attempts to grapple with the many layers of meaning in Dante's work by placing the author within it."
Review by Amy Lilly, Seven Days, May 19, 2010
"There's a new edition of Dante's "Inferno" that's recently begun appearing in bookstores. Same words. Different cover. It's got a big picture of a muscular fellow in a spiky crown and an overline that says, 'The literary classic that inspired the epic video game.'..."
See the whole article:
Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times, January 29, 2010
Background Image: Domenico di Michelino, Dante and His Comedy, 1465