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Posts Tagged ‘Dante

“All fantasy should have a solid base in reality”*…

 

One of the most notorious examples of Waldeck’s penchant for fantasy: an elephant head in this rendition of an Ancient Mayan temple

Not a lot concerning the artist, erotic publisher, explorer, and general enigma Count de Waldeck can be taken at face value, and this certainly includes his fanciful representations of ancient Mesoamerican culture which — despite being brilliantly executed on-site at Mayan monuments like Palenque — run wild with anatopistic lions, elephants, and suspicious architecture.  Rhys Griffiths looks at the life and work of one of the 19th century’s most mysterious and eccentric figures: “Brief Encounters with Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck.”

* Sir Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson

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As we ponder a predecessor of Photoshop, we might send delightfully-drawn birthday greetings to Paul Gustave Doré; he was born on this date in 1832.  An engraver, sculptor, and illustrator– indeed, the defining illustrator of works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, Cervantes, and many others– Doré is probably best-remembered as the man who showed us Heaven and Hell: the canonical illustrator of Dante.

Don Quixote, his horse Rocinante, and his squire Sancho Panza after an unsuccessful attack on a windmill.

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The Tempest of Hell in THE DIVINE COMEDY

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Written by LW

January 6, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way”*…

 

Michelangelo Caetani’s “Cross Section of Hell,” an illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and part of Cornell University’s P.J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography (“more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information”).

An enlargeable version of the Cross Section is here; browse the full collection here.

* Robert Frost

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As we ruminate on repentance, we might note that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  The conflation of “Lucifer” with “Satan” came later.

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Written by LW

May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere”*…

 

From Sean Tejaratchi, creator of the zine Crap Hound

More– oh, so much more– at LiarTownUSA.

* Dr. Seuss

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As we revel in the ridiculous, we might pour a cup of birthday tea for English mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican cleric, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson– better known as the author Lewis Carroll– born on this date in 1832.

“There is no use in trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice in Wonderland (nee “Alice’s Adventures Underground,” then “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”)

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And we might might spare a sympathetic thought for Dante Alighieri, who was exiled from Florence on this date in 1302… sympathetic– and grateful– as it was on his subsequent wanderings that he wrote The Divine Comedy

Dante, as painted by Giotto on the wall of the Bargello in Florence; the oldest surviving portrait of the poet, from before his exile

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Happy Mozart’s Birthday!

Written by LW

January 27, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Ah, to think how thin the veil that lies Between the pain of Hell and Paradise”*…

 

 click here for enlargeable and navigable version

From the remarkable Russian periodical, INFOGRAFIKA (see also here), a handy map of Hell.  per the title of this post, one just never knows when it might come in handy…

* George William Russell (AE)

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As we bird-dog Beatrice, we might send sardonic birthday greetings to Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce; he was born on this date in 1842.  A journalist, editor, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist, Bierce is probably best remembered for his short-story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (which Kurt Vonnegut considered the greatest American short story, a “work of flawless genius”) and, pace Dante, for his scathingly satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary

  • Advicen. The smallest current coin…
  • Boundaryn. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other…
  • Yearn. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments…

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“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way…”*

Surely the best-known artist to illustrate The Divine Comedy, Dante’s tour of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, was Gustave Doré, whose iconic folio was published in 1861.  But countless artists– from Botticelli to Dali– have been inspired by the poet’s visionary allegory.  The image above is from Jean-Édouard Dargent (also known as Yan’ Dargent), a rival of Doré’s, who also published (in 1870) a book illustrating Dante’s epic.  Instead of Doré’s polished, classical nudes and precise lines, Dargent strikes a more primitive, violent tone, a little rough around the edges.

See more of his Divine work at “Amazing 19th-Century Illustrations of The Divine Comedy“; and see (even) more of the images in larger format here.

*Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, I found myself within a shadowed forest,
ché la diritta via era smarrita. for I had lost the path that does not stray.
Canto 1, 1

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As we pack for an extended journey, we might send a witty birthday sketch to Aubrey Beardsley; he was born on this date in 1872.  An artist and illustrator, Beardsley was (with James MacNeil Whistler and Oscar Wilde, whose work Beardsley illustrated) a leading figure in the Aesthetic Movement.  His career was short– he died at 25 of tuberculosis– but his work was a formative influence in the development of both Art Nouveau and Poster Style.

“The Peacock Skirt”, for Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé (1892)

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Written by LW

August 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

Casting a spell: spelling “aghast”…

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Don’t be left out; join in the fun!  Play Oxford Dictionaries On-Line Spelling Bee!

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As we chant to ourselves “‘i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’,” we might send mysterious birthday greetings to writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator, and Christian humanist Dorothy L. Sayers; she was born on this date in 1893.  While she’s surely best remembered as a crime novelist– the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey– she considered her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Penguin Classics, in three volumes, e.g., here) to be her best work.

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Written by LW

June 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

The detritus of empire…

As the USSR fell apart, many of its military outposts were simply abandoned.  Photographer Eric Lusito travelled from East Germany to Mongolia and from Poland to Kazakhstan in search of these former Soviet bases.   His photo essay– “After the Wall– Traces of the Soviet Empire“– is mesmerizing:

Parade ground, Mongolia. By the early 1970s, monuments to the Great Patriotic War became ubiquitous features of the Soviet landscape. A soldier named Alexei served as a model for one of the first, since then these monuments are nicknamed ‘Alyosha,’ the affectionate name form of Alexei. At the base of the statue an inscription reads ‘All that was built by the people, must be imperatively defended.’
The area in front of the statue was used for military parades. Around 10-15,000 soldiers, personnel and their families were based here.

See all of Lusito’s remarkable photos here.

As we contemplate Ozymandias, we might don our celebratory togas in honor of Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Roman poet better known these days as Lucan, born on this date in 39 AD in Cordoba.  The Grandson of Seneca the Elder and the nephew of Seneca, Lucan wrote in the time of Nero, with whom he feuded, and against whom he ultimately plotted– until (at the age of 25 ) he was discovered and forced, like his uncle Seneca, to commit suicide.  Of course, karma being what it is, history remembers Nero as a libertine and a tyrant; it remembers Lucan as an exemplar of the Silver Age of Latin poetry… indeed, Lucan comes in for not one, but two nifty mentions in Dante (in The Inferno and in De Vulgari Eloquentia)…

Lucan

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