“Last summer, in anticipation of the anniversary, I committed myself to reading a canto of La Commedia each morning. Since there are exactly 100 cantos and there are very nearly 100 days of summer—and since La Commedia is divided into 3 sections in much the same way that the summer is divided into 3 months—this seemed a perfectly poetic way to spend the summer. It was an intense experience, walking with Dante each day. Even on bright, sunny mornings, I found myself drawn into the dark world of the poem. The striking images would stay with me. Dante was not only in my waking thoughts; he began entering into my dreams. He became a ghost haunting the hallways of my house as well as the corners of my mind.
It should come as no surprise to us that the world has changed since 1321, when Dante completed La Commedia. And yet, Dante has bequeathed us a vision and a vast cast of characters that enable us to see ourselves, with all of our failings, our strivings and our aspirations. He has captured what is universal in the human condition, even as he was subject to the limitations and prejudices of his own time.
‘Talking Back to Dante’ is but one of many recent projects created to honor the master poet and his masterful poem. Writers and artists all over the world are penning stories and poems, molding sculptures, making paintings and movies and music in conversation with Dante. All of this artistic energy, set in motion by Dante, serves as evidence and celebration of the fact that La Commedia is a living work of genius, not some dead artifact or dusty museum piece frozen in time. As T. S. Eliot and the countless creative works inspired by Dante, can attest, La Commedia is very much alive 700 years after its completion and promises to charm us, challenge us and haunt us for centuries to come.” —Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, “‘Talking Back to Dante’: A tribute in verse,” America The Jesuit Review, March 31, 2022 (retrieved January 25, 2024)