by Catriona Mills

As Soon As I Can Stop Laughing . . .

Posted 16 December 2008 in by Catriona

I’m going to blog about the new video game based on Dante’s Inferno.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The game hasn’t been released yet, and I’m already looking forward to the sequel: Dante’s Purgatory. I’m quite certain they have no intention of releasing Dante’s Paradiso. (Frankly, I don’t blame them: I re-read The Divine Comedy at least once a year, and I tend to stop after Purgatory. Heaven is quite dull in comparison to the sufferings of the damned and the penitent.)

Look, I’m not the first person to get a giggle out of this: check out today’s Penny Arcade strip.

But, honestly: The Divine Comedy is important for many reasons. Let me indulge in a brief and shallow list of the ones that spring to mind, in bullet-point form.

  • The Divine Comedy is a sustained engagement with the idea of contrapasso, or, as we might term it vernacularly, poetic justice. I’m not sure that this includes . . . but, actually, to say what this doesn’t include would be to preview the end of this post too early. So let’s just stop there.
  • it’s an immensely influential work, especially on authors of the Regency period—after the success of Henry Francis Cary’s translation—and afterwards. One of the more interesting engagements with Dante and with contrapasso, to my mind, is Lady Caroline Lamb’s Ada Reis, in which the entire third volume takes place in a hellish Dantean afterlife. But that’s only one example, and less obscure writers such as Walter Savage Landor, Leigh Hunt, and Lord Byron were also fascinated by Dante.
  • it represents a significant and influential development of the geography and sociology of Hell, including an engagement with aspects of lore that, while inferred from either the Old or New Testaments, gained greater significance later in the history of the church, such as the Harrowing of Hell.
  • it was written in vernacular Italian, rather than Latin, making it accessible to a broader number of readers.

A shallow list? Yes.

But not as shallow as the video game.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of my friend Drew, here is the trailer for the video game of Dante’s Inferno.

And if what Dante does in that final scene qualifies as contrapasso, I need a new dictionary.

Share your thoughts [6]

1

Tim wrote at Dec 16, 12:23 PM

Because modern gamers have been clamouring for a chance to see what happened to all their most hated twelfth-century Italian notables after death!

2

Drew wrote at Dec 16, 12:25 PM

lol, the final scene had me laughing so much I was crying! To be fair Dante does learn through the course of the Inferno to be pitiless towards the Damned, but smashing them in the face with a crucifux! ROFL, priceless.

I’m such a geek that I had to post a comment on the Spong review site that it wasn’t actually Dante who was battling through Hell to save Beatice as they believed, but rather the other way around; Beatrice of course can’t possibly be in any danger ever again. Slight problem of agency there. Still I suppose a video game of a divine female being crying and rushing to save the soul of a endangered man isn’t going to sell very well.

3

Drew wrote at Dec 16, 12:30 PM

and of couse, it wasn’t written in 1300 as the trailer suggests, it was set in the year 1300, but I guess that’s a minor quibble. :)

4

Catriona wrote at Dec 16, 12:35 PM

Tim, that should have been the tagline, instead of (snort) “Go to Hell.”

Drew, it shows Dante battling through Hell to save Beatrice? Dead and saved Beatrice? Wow. I didn’t get that from the trailer.

Can you imagine a game actually based on the poem?

“Use the ‘Righteous Anger’ command (Shift + A) repeatedly to force the pleading spirit to release your boat and slip back under the boiling blood.”

“Use the ‘Fear’ command (Shift + F) to make Virgil come to your aid!”

Actually, is Virgil in the game?

5

Tim wrote at Dec 16, 01:30 PM

Virgil would have to be in it. Surely.

He could be a moving save/backup feature, like Elika in the latest Prince of Persia.

6

Drew wrote at Dec 16, 07:40 PM

lol, now you’ve reminded me of the “All my Ciruits” movie as seen in Futurama:

Press (Shift+A) if you want Virgil to race to your rescue in his bright red ferrari,

Press (Shift+B) if you want him to explain again nature of luck in the universe and how fraud is subdivided and punished.

“Damn, I am sure I pressed shift A”

But you’re right, there’ll be no Dante 3: Paradiso. “Listen again as Beatrice explains the hierarchy of the blessed; travel to the Emperium and have your memory seared by God’s light!” Awesome stuff.

But I am the same, Purgatory and Inferno make far more interesting reading, it’s the same with Milton’s Paradise Regained. Who wants to read about Jesus as the hero of the story when you can have Satan in PL instead? It’s the Dives and Lazarus Principle in action. I always thought the whole point of that parable was that each could see the other damned or blessed at the end; there’s no point in being punished or saved unless one can see the alternative in action as a reminder. So also, stories of Divine horror make enjoyable reading as we sit Lazarus-like looking down from our comfy chair.

Comment Form

All comments are moderated and moderation includes a non-spoiler policy based on Australian television scheduling.

Textile help (Advice on using Textile to format your comments)
(if you do not want your details filled in when you return)

Categories

Blogroll

Monthly Archive

2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
2011
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
August
October
November
December
2010
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
October
December
2009
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2008
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December