“When the Pope issues a sweeping edict calling for a yearlong war on drugs, no one is more surprised than the Vatican to find the campaign a success. In every Catholic corner of the world, young people throw down their needles to pick up crosses. In Florence, thousands of them converge on the Duomo to thank Christ for their newfound commitment to sobriety. Nearly everyone is relieved by this development—save for Leonardo Bindo, banker and druglord. To get his business back on track, he seizes upon a simple plan: Kill the Pope. Standing in his way is Homer Kelly, transcendentalist scholar and occasional detective. In Florence to teach at a new international university, Homer stumbles on Bindo’s scheme while investigating the disappearance of a beautiful young student. His Italian may be lousy, but Homer is the only man who can save Italy from itself.” —Jane Langton, The Dante Game, Amazon (1991)
“Ho studiato nelle scuole della lingua di Dante…Grazie Dea Italia! Sarò finalmente lontano da questi somari, da questi brutti ceffi, selvaggi, che adorano i cammelli…” –Garane Garane, Il Latte è Buono, 2005
“Gashan’s (the protagonist’s) identification with Dante is central in the novel, which can be seen as an inverted journey from the Heaven of the uncritical enjoyment of Italian culture in Somalia to the Hell of European and American discrimination and Somali Civil War. Garane’s Il Latte è Buono can be defined as a Bildungsroman since the character becomes increasingly aware of the psychological influence of Italian colonialism on his education when he reaches and lives in Italy. To some extent, Dante’s role within his Bildung is once again to serve as a meta-literary guide for the main character, recalling Virgil’s role as Dante’s mentor in the Commedia.” –Simone Brioni, Lorenzo Mari, Postcolonial Dante: Reading the Commedia in Mogadishu, 2019
Access Il Latte è Buono by Garane Garane here.
Contributed by Simone Brioni (Ph.D., Stony Brook University)
On page 23 of the 1994 novel Corelli’s Mandolin, a gay Italian soldier fighting in WWII contemplates the treatment of homosexuals in Dante’s depictions of Hell. De Bernieres makes specific reference to the Seventh Circle of Hell and the punishment of the sodomites (as well as the usurers). The author also incorporates a quote from Canto XVI of Dorothy Sayer’s 1950 translation of Dante’s Inferno: “It makes me heartsick only to think of them.”
“This last novel by Uruguayan writer and defense attorney Martínez Moreno, who died in exile in 1986, depicts the revolt of Uruguay’s Tupamaro urban guerillas and their suppression by the military in the early 1970s. Using true accounts of kidnapping, torture and murder from political detainees whom he defended while living in Uruguay, Martínez Moreno fashions a dreamlike yet brutally realistic story of a police state. His book borrows chiefly from The Inferno in Dante’s Divine Comedy. In this modern-day hell, wealthy Uruguayan bankers and prosecutors are kidnapped by the Tupamaros; army colonels and police officers learn more effective ways to torture political prisoners from the ‘cold, calculating’ North American ‘adviser.'” —Publishers Weekly, 1988
For more on the novel and its relationship to Dante’s poem, see Efraín Kristal’s “What Is, Is Not: Dante in Tomas Eloy Martínez’s Purgatorio,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 31.4 (2012): 473-484 (accessible here).
“[…] “Twilight of the Eastern Gods was published in parts in Albania between 1962 and 1978, translated into French by Jusuf Vrioni in 1981, and only now appears in English, in David Bellos’s translation of Vrioni’s French. In his introduction Bellos assures us of the factuality of Kadare’s account of the Pasternak affair, and says that many of the faculty and students at the Gorky Institute are called by their real names, but reports that Kadare’s wife’s study of his early correspondence has shown that other elements of the book, such as the narrator’s romance with a young Moscovite called Lida Snegina, are entirely fictional.”
“Here’s the way the narrator describes the Gorky Institute dormitory to Lida: ‘First floor: that’s where the first-year students stay; they’ve not yet committed many literary sins. Second floor: critics, conformist playwrights, whitewashers. Third . . . circle: dogmatics . . . and Russian nationalists. Fourth circle: women, liberals and people disenchanted with socialism. Fifth circle: slanderers and snitches. Sixth circle: denaturalized writers who have abandoned their own language to write in Russian.’ I’m not sure if I’d rank him with Dante, but I intend to keep laying an annual £20 bet on Kadare for as long as he lives.”
–Christian Lorentzen, The New York Times, November 26, 2014