A Lenten Study of Dante ~ February 24 to April 7, 2023


Speech artist Beatrice Voigt and I will offer an enthusiast’s study  of Dante’s Divine Comedy through the Lenten season, 2023. Our approach, rather than being an academic or exhaustive undertaking, will be more like a stroll through Dante’s master work, inspired by the pilgrim’s own journey of exploration, following him through the Inferno, the Purgatory, and the Paradise, beginning with a mood akin to the one Dante himself describes, after he has made it through the purifying fire of the 7th Cornice, when he finds himself alone and free in the earthly paradise:
Eager to search, in and throughout its ways
The sacred wood, whose thick and leafy tent,
Spread in my sight, tempered the new sun’s rays,

I made no pause, but left the cliff and went
With lingering steps across the level leas
Where all the soil breathed out a fragrant scent.

A delicate air, that no inconstancies
Knows in its motion, on my forehead played,
With force no greater than a gentle breeze,

And quivering at its touch the branches swayed,
All toward that quarter where the holy hill
With the first daylight stretches out its shade;
Purgatorio Canto XXVIII, 1-12

We will meet on Zoom for seven Friday’s at 7 pm eastern time, beginning February 24 and culminating Good Friday, April 7, 2023. The suggested fee is $35 ($5/session) made payable to Mary Stewart Adams via Paypal, or by various other methods, including by check to me at PO Box 851 Harbor Springs, MI 49740. Email me here for more information.

Each week will include a synopsis of the section of the poem under consideration, which I intend to pursue in a parallel read each week  (across the canticles, from Inferno to Purgatory to Paradise), rather than a straight read through one canticle at a time. We will combine this with poetry, song, art, and all that the poem has inspired. The synopsis will include Beatrice’s reading of selected segments of the poem, and other works, followed by open discussion.

About translation ~  there are as many reasons for choosing a particular translation of the Divine Comedy as there are translations. For these sessions I will rely on the Penguin Classics translations by Mark Musa (Inferno) and Dorothy Sayers (Purgatory and Paradise). Mark Musa’s introduction is terrific, as are the notes throughout this series.

I also highly recommend Willem Frederick Veltman’s book Dante’s Revelation ~ A Study of the Life and Work of Dante Alighieri, recently published by Steiner Books and available at this link.

I am equally excited and daunted by this study, and look forward to hearing from you, with questions, to register, and to share your enthusiasm.

From the shores of Lake Michigan, as pictured above,