Dante’s World

This looks likes a wondrous exhibition. It’s exciting to see the level of engagement and re-elaboration of Dante’s work across media at the moment.

The exhibition of Rachel Owen’s new illustrations of the Inferno at Pembroke College, Oxford, represents another rich addition to this tradition.

RachelOwenFlyer-jpgforwebsite

Part of this must certainly be to do with this particular temporal sweet spot, between the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth (which we celebrated in 2015) and the 700th anniversary of his death (to come in 2021), but this isn’t the only explanation.

Dante’s have been a source texts for visual, musical and new literary art for centuries, something I’ve written about elsewhere, and it’s rewarding, as a researcher, to see the everliving and developing nature of his artistic legacy.

Ordered Universe

A new exhibition opens in Durham this week, at the Palace Green Library Galleries. Curated by Annalisa Cipollone Dante: Hell, Heaven and Hope – A Journey through Life and the After-Life with Danteopens on Saturday 2nd December 2017, and runs until early March 2018. Following Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy with its tour through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, the exhibition features rare manuscripts of Dante’s work, printed copies and artistic responses to one of the greatest imaginative achievements of the Middle Ages. 

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Dante, Doré and Satire

So while not strictly about Dante, this is definitely Dante related.

Gustav Doré: Dante and Virgil's Ice Skating Adventure (or the traitors in Cocytus)

Gustav Doré: Dante and Virgil’s Ice Skating Adventure (or the traitors in Cocytus)

All you Divine Comedy fans out there will likely be familiar with Gustav Doré’s superb illustrations of our favourite pilgrim’s progress through the afterlife, but did you know he was a major mover and shaker in the world of satirical illustration?

Hot on the heels of a visit to the Musée D’Orsay’s fascinating and comprehensive exhibition of Gustav’s outrageously varied output (clock casings, epic canvasses, sculptures, sketches and oils) my wife wrote this piece for the Oxonion Review of books, which focusses on his place in the history of satire.

The exhibition really was fascinating, and if you manage to be in Paris before 11 May I highly recommend swinging by. There’s a deftness and wit to so many of Doré’s pieces, balanced by a keenly observed tragedy and social commentary in his paintings of bohemians and beggars. The severity and piety of his large scale religious works left me somewhat flat, displaying Doreé at his most stolidly 19th century, in stark contrast to his comic and often scathing caricatures or his proto-surreal bronzes.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with the starting point of an assessment far more eloquent than my own:

Nowadays, Gustave Doré is predominantly remembered for his woodcut illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which manage, in a peculiarly 19th-century way, to be both sternly po-faced and flamboyantly crammed with writhing, naked flesh. The Musée D’Orsay exhibition, however, is more interested in highlighting his prodigious contributions to the arts of satirical illustration and cartooning, and devotes nearly an entire, very crowded floor to his extraordinarily productive career.

Jennifer Thorp,  ‘Satire and the Illustration’

Gustav Doré: Dandyism Ruralising

Gustav Doré: Dandyism Ruralising

Review: Fabian Alfie, Dante’s Tenzone with Forese Donati: The Reprehension of Vice

“This study provides a useful contribution to the discussion surrounding Dante’s poetic praxis and legacy, revealing the significance of a previously neglected series of texts, which represent not a literary aberration to be dismissed along with a period of waywardness but rather an important and lasting aspect of Dante’s thought and writing.”
You’ll need Athens or institutional access to read it.

Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno

A review of Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Inferno (in which I use ‘powerful(ly)’ too often):

“This Inferno is, at times cogent, inventive, and beautiful. But for all its innovation and moments of excellence, Bang’s audacious modernising translation often loses its way, leaving us to struggle through a wood of distracting line breaks and the odd unfortunate inaccuracy.”

http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/the-thick-of-it/