Dante’s Inferno

(I meant to bring this up today in class when we were talking about intellectual property and titles, but it slipped my mind. To the blog!)

So when I worked in a bookstore lo these many years ago, lots of people would come in looking for Dante’s Inferno, usually for some sort of school/university reading.  And a surprising amount of them would try to purchase this: http://www.amazon.com/Dantes-Inferno-Sylvia-Strange-Novels/dp/1593350740

Although Publishers Weekly call it “derivative and formulaic,” one fan was impressed with “Ms. Lovett’s use of the Inferno’s geography of hell.”

Just for fun, in searching for this novel, I came across:

an animated comedy (?): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479008/ (L. Ron Hubbard, Dick Cheney and Lizzie Borden are all characters – spoiler alert?)

the Dante’s Inferno video game: http://www.ea.com/dantes-inferno

which was released simultaneously with another animated movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1401113/

and of course, the ubiquitous graphic novel: http://www.amazon.com/Dantes-Inferno-The-Graphic-Novel/dp/0963962116

Let us not forget the recent(isn) New Yorker review of two new Dante translations and Dan Brown’s Inferno 

(http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2013/05/27/130527crbo_books_acocella),

which is an absolute must-read, if only for the following paragraph:

“For all its absurdities, Brown’s book is a comfort, because it proves that the Divine Comedy is still alive in our culture. The same is true, on a higher level, of the James and the Bang translations. Take James. He probably gave us more oddities—outrages, even—than he would have with a less famous text. Surely he knew the number and the excellence of his predecessors. But he is seventy-three and ailing, so, if he said to himself, “What the hell, let’s just do it,” you can see why. As for Bang, she’s not seventy-three (she’s sixty-seven), but if she has taught the Divine Comedy she has unquestionably faced a lot of young people saying, “What?” “What?” You can’t blame her for trying to do something about that. At least she cares. All of us should worry about her students, though. They’re going to go off thinking that Dante wrote about meringue-pie mountains, and this is wrong. Furthermore, there is no reason that they couldn’t have faced the mountain without the pie, and the fourteenth century without the twenty-first.”

Joan Acocella has a lot of opinions about adaptation.

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