Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Come for the Donkey Show, Stay for the Dante References

Yann Martel (author of Life of Pi) is releasing his newest novel in April of this year, Beatrice and Virgil.  And, yes, that is a monkey mounting a donkey on the front cover.

What interests me, however, is the title of the book.  For those of you who don't know, Beatrice and Virgil seems to be a direct reference to the works of Dante Alighieri, poet and writer of 14th Century Italy.  Virgil is, of course, Dante's divinely-assigned guide through hell in part one of La Divina Commedia, Inferno.  Beatrice Portinari was Dante's inspiration for La Vita Nuova, an explanation of Medieval courtly love which explored the emotional interiors of a courtier in love.

Anyway, my point is this: I'm very curious to see how Dante plays into Beatrice and Virgil, especially since Martel has previously stated that The Divine Comedy is "the single most impressive book" he's ever read.  That said, however, I have certain reservations about reading the book, since I was distinctly underwhelmed by Life of Pi, to the point that I didn't even finish it.

I believe I shall put my name on the Denver Public Library's waiting list.


Homero said...

I had to look up that cover, because when you said "monkey mounting a donkey "....

Anyway, I looked up the synopsis of the book, and it seems a bit boring to me-- intersting premise, but boring.

I'd be more interested in reading something actually about Dante and Virgil. That guy was obsessed (let's not beat around the bush, she was more than a sourc of 'inspiration' for the him) with a woman that he met perhaps only twice (if I remember correctly, once when she was still a child) in his lifetime. Throw in his exile, and you have an interesting novel that deserves the title of "Dante and Beatrice."

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I actually couldn't stand Life of Pi, but I only made it about 30 pages in, so I can't say much about it other than it bored me to tears. That's partly why I'm not going to BUY this book, I'll just borrow it from the library in case it follows in Life of Pi's footsteps.

I took a whole class in Dante with an Italian professor who had the THICKEST Italian accent I've ever heard. Several people had to drop the class because they couldn't tell what the hell he was saying, but he really made it seem like loving someone who one had barely even met was entirely acceptable in Medieval Italy.

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