Dante’s Journey Through Popular Culture

Emma Marigliano
Thursday, 14 October 2021 - 7:00pm


T. S. Eliot said “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them.  There is no third.”  This is probably because they both understood the human condition and verbalised it so imaginatively and graphically.

Dante Alighieri was from Florence, Italy, and lived through very turbulent times.  He was exiled for his politics and loyalties and, during his exile, he wrote ‘La Commedia’ (‘-Divina’ was added around a century later).  In many ways it was a testament to his journey in exile but also his spiritual journey, in fact and imagination, from a place of turmoil to one of safety.  His epic poem, which took him from the depths of Inferno to the bliss of Paradise, continues to influence writers, artists, film-makers and more to the present day, in a variety of media.  It won’t come as any surprise that Dante’s graphic and painterly descriptions of Inferno and its ghastly punishments has had the deepest impact on textual and visual interpreters and re-interpreters. 

In this illustrated talk, Emma Marigliano will be looking at how Dante has impacted those who have encountered him.  From the early film-makers and modern artists to Olive Oil and slippers.  From New York to Tokyo and comics to sand, Dante’s hold on the modern imagination has never been so strong.


About the speaker

Emma Marigliano was the Head Librarian of The Portico Library in Manchester until she retired in 2017.  The Library’s holdings of a mainly 19th century collection of books stirred her passion for illustrated books as she believes that the illustrations add to a story or create a new one.  Alice in Wonderland, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Elizabeth Gaskell’s illustrated editions are just a few of the subjects she has researched and spoken on.  Her main interests, however, lie in illustrated editions and the art of Dante’s Divine Comedy from the 19th century in particular as evidenced by her own substantial collection.

Emma is also the Chairwoman (since 2014) of the Independent Libraries Association (ILA) which brings together and supports those libraries that are independently funded and are scattered throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Event image: detail from Dante's Inferno, Illustrated by Sandow Birk, text adapted by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2004



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