Dante’s Inferno – World Poets
Venue: Online – £10/$12/€11.25 for this online talk – see right
The links giving you access to this lecture podcast will be sent out from 6 October or as soon as you book after that.
Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third”, declared T S Eliot in his 1929 essay on the poet. Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line verse narrative of heart-stopping brilliance, written in terza rima, the beguiling aba bcb cdc rhyme scheme which he had invented, tells the apparently autobiographical story of how, at Easter in the year 1300, Dante had set out, with the ghost of the Roman poet Virgil as his guide, on a life-changing journey which led him down into Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory to the Earthly Paradise, and beyond.
On Dante’s Inferno night, five days before the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death in Ravenna on 14th September 1321, Graham Fawcett re-traces Dante’s footsteps from the moment when he finds himself, at the age of 35, lost in a dark wood, with no sign of the path. How can he find his way out and so get his life back?
Answer: he has to make the journey that no-one else had ever come back from before. Inferno, the first book of his Divine Comedy, inspires, astonishes and exhilarates readers across the world to this day with the sheer versatility of its profoundly realistic imagination.
The audience’s experience – of what Dante sees, hears and feels every step of the way through Hell – connects the batteries of our senses and his, the current passing through the live wire of the poetic line.
Graham Fawcett’s Dante programmes for BBC Radio 3 include A Voyage of Sighs, his verse translation of Dante’s La Vita Nuova for BBC Radio Drama; The Hell of Francesca da Rimini on Inferno canto 5; and Dante In Rotterdam, a documentary on the Dante translation project at the Rotterdam International Festival.
He translated Dante’s Inferno into prose in 1976 and 1977.
Top picture: William Blake, Dante meets the Leopard, the Lion and the She-Wolf, Inferno canto 1
Lower picture: Gustav Doré, Dante in the Dark Wood, Inferno canto 1