Join Me for 100 Days of Dante!6
If you have ever thought about reading the Divine Comedy, which includes the more famous Dante's Inferno, now is your chance to do it with much help along the way. Baylor University, along with some from Biola and elsewhere, are sponsoring an epic 100 Days of Reading Dante. And I hope some of you might join me!
Dante's Divine Comedy, beginning with Dante's Inferno, is one of those huge classics of Christian literature that many have heard of, but few have tackled, given its unwieldly nature.
The Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, was born in Florence in 1265, and is known most for composing the great trilogy: Inferno, Purgatory, and Pardise. These three works are about Dante's vision through hell, purgatory (remember, everyone in the 13th century believed in purgatory), and then heaven.
His Christian writing shaped some of the greatest pieces of literature to come, such as the writings of J. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It is powerful literature, in many respects calling all Christians to persevere through a difficult Christian life. That's why I love it. Dante declares in his opening words:
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wilderness,
for I had wandered from the straight and true.
How hard a thing it is to tell about,
that wilderness so savage, dense, and harsh,
even to think of it renews my fear!
It is so bitter, death is hardly more-
but to reveal the good that came to me,
I shall relate the other things I saw. (Inferno, trans. A. Esolen, 3)
Through the entire work Dante calls Christians to set their eyes on the resurrected Jesus.
But the reading is not for the faint of heart.
One reason is, it is long! But another is because of its cultural distance from us, coming from a world unknown to us. And here's why I write this blog: now is your chance to join myself and others in reading the entire Divine Comedy with some expert guides along the way (I know, some of you are thinking: "What! No way, Michael!" That's okay, I still love you).
From September 8 to Easter 2022, a group of Christian Dante scholars are inviting the public to read with them the entire text, slowly over the course of 100 days. Each week, they will release two to three short videos to guide the reader through sections of the text. To learn more, head on over to their website 100 Days of Dante.
Like when we read Les Miserable last year, this is your chance to jump in on a classic text (a significant Christian one in this instance!) and read with others.
If you want to join me, let me know via email or in the comments of the blog. For my part, we will gather together after each part (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise) to talk about what you saw and experienced while reading it. I look forward to hearing what you experience through the pages of this classic.
If you sign up on their website, the 100 Days of Dante group will offer you a reading plan, offer translations (here is what I am reading from), and even give a free one online that you can read if you choose.
To learn more, here is a great video they have released (click on the fullscreen for better viewing):