I fondly remember the Lecturae Dantis, a series of lectures from 1969 to 1984  at Cambridge University which would read and explicate one canto of the Divine Comedy at a time. I always meant to go to more of them. Fortunately CUP published a couple of volumes containing some of the lectures. The term originally referred to live readings of the cantos, but has evolved to include academic commentary. Lots of places have them, and here’s a link to the series at St Andrews University, where you can view the lectures on most of the 100 cantos (they are up to Paradiso 3).

1465028Publishing Cambridge links to this new University series, Cambridge Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, which covers three cantos in each lecture, one from Inferno and the same numbered canto from Purgatorio and Paradiso. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given interest in numerology, there are connections between cantos numbered the same in the three parts as well as significance in multipliers and sums of the numbers. There are links to 32 (thus far) lectures. Is it numerologically significant that the one missing item from the set appears to be Cantos 32?


I’ve alluded to the typeface Dante™ before. It was designed by Giovanni Mardersteig for the Officina Bodoni between 1946 and 1954. Dante got its name from the first book it was used for in 1955, Boccaccio’s Trattatello in Laude di Dante. Officina Bodoni was a fine press printer run by Mardersteig: it’s named after Bodoni — it is not to be mistaken as a continuation of Bodoni’s own Parma operation. Mardersteig was born Hans Mardersteig in Weimar in 1892. In 1922 he founded his press in Switzerland, moving on to Verona five years later. The design of Dante was influenced by Francesco Griffo’s work, and Mardersteig also designed a font called Griffo, as well as one called Zeno. His press printed high-quality work, including work for The Limited Editions Club. After his death in 1977 his son, Martino Mardersteig took over the operation of Stamperia Valdonega, their more commercial operation, but occasionally would print a book on his father’s hand presses under the Officina Bodoni imprint. John Dreyfus’ Giovanni Mardersteig: An account of his work, printed and published by Officina Bodoni in 1966, is unavailable at Amazon.

A recent book, still available in the stores, in which Dante was used is Paper: Paging through history by Mark Kurlansky. This is the colophon, which shows a paragraph set in Dante.


There’s a link to a reading of Caroline Bergvall’s VIA: 48 Dante Variations at my earlier post Translation — Style.