“Set in a small village in Maine, Circle features teen orgies, adultery, boy toys, date rape drugs, self-inflicted maiming and a suicide that might be murder.
“All this plays out against the unsubtle backdrop of high school teacher Laura Stone (Kelly Preston) teaching a course in Dante, whose Divine Comedy never foreshadows anything too pleasant.
“In fact, the title of the best-selling Jodi Picoult novel from which the film was adapted suggests Dante didn’t go far enough for the modern world – that where Dante created only nine circles of eternal purgatory, these days we need a 10th.
“Seems that since Dante outlined Hell in the early 14th century, we’ve somehow stepped up our game and developed another level of wickedness.” […] –David Hinckley, NY Daily News, June 27, 2008
“‘Forget the Purgatorio,’ says a character in Marcel Möring’s new novel, ‘leave the Paradiso unread. Hell and nothing but that. That is the world.’ In this intelligent, literate narrative, the forest that skirts the Dutch town of Assen becomes the dark wood of Dante’s Inferno, while the town itself is depicted as a desolate place of sin and suffering.
[. . .]
“Homer, Dante, Joyce, Greek myth, Arthurian romance – Möring’s debts are unmistakable, but there’s no sense of a sneaking or slavish dependency on these sources; his unapologetic literary borrowings are a form of celebration. His exuberance sometimes seems hyperactive, but its general effect is compelling. His approach is perhaps best understood through analogy with another art form: at one point he invokes the spirit of Miles Davis, describing the great jazzman ‘going into the studio with a handful of notes and chords and in a hallucinatory session recording Kind of Blue, carrying everyone along with him, with complete confidence in his leadership and the expectation that he will bring them to the place where they have to be.’ Threading the novel’s intricate byways, enjoying the journey for its own sake, we do indeed finish up where we have to be – perhaps registering that, as the Jew of Assen remarks, the crooked path is often the only way to the end.” —Jem Poster, The Guardian, February 13, 2009
The novel, originally published in Dutch under the title Dis, was awarded the Ferdinand Bordewijk Prize for the best Dutch novel in 2007. See the author’s page here.
“Surrealist painter Anton Brzezinski takes us on a modern journey through Hell. This time the poet Virgil is replaced by his one time neighbor in New York, the writer William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch. Well known for his Sci Fi illustrations and surrealisms, Anton Brzezinski is a versatile artist who creates in a number of media. Currently he’s completing a feature length video called Adventures of the Living Dali. Anton’s Inferno was written at the same time he created a complex 38 inch by 50 inch oil painting of the same name. This novelette is a sometimes irreverent satire. He cautions if you’re easily offended, please give this to someone with a sense of humor.” —Amazon
Dante Restaurant, Boston, MA
Contributed by Krista Gladman (Bowdoin, ’11)