Poetry Marcus Sanders Dante's Purgatorio

ISBN 13: 9780811847193

Dante's Purgatorio

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9780811847193: Dante's Purgatorio

Following the acclaim for their innovative edition of Dante's Inferno, Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders guide us to the next level of the afterlife in Dante's Purgatorio. The second book of Dante Alighieri's classic poem The Divine Comedy, this version of Purgatorio couples a clever literary adaptation incorporating modern urban speech and contemporary references with powerful illustrations inspired by Gustave Dor's famous engravings. Whereas Inferno was primarily situated in a city that bears a curious resemblance to modern Los Angeles, Purgatorio is set in a surreal San Francisco Bay Area, an outlandish and hopeful milieu for those who have a chance to wash their sins away. Together, the sardonic yet playful combination of text and images comprise a vivid retelling of this masterpiece.

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About the Author:

Sandow Birk is a recipient of both Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships. His work has been exhibited widely and published in several books. He lives in Long Beach, California.

Marcus Sanders is a contributing editor for Surfing and Surfline, and has written for numerous travel and surfing magazines. Born and raised in Canada, he lives in San Francisco.

Marcia Tanner is an independent curator and writer who lives in Berkeley, California.

Michael Meister is assistant academic vice president and professor of Religious Studies at Saint Mary's College of California.

Review:

"To coincide with the San Jose Museum of Art's complete exhibition of Birk's Dante (opening Sept. 24), Chronicle has just published Birk's last two volumes in the set. Mercifully, all us Birkheads can now breathe easy. The completed "Commedia" is a masterwork, vulnerable in places to nitpicking but infinitely enriched by motifs that emerge only after contemplation of the full trilogy. One would no sooner own this "Inferno" without its two sequelae than eat breakfast but skip lunch and dinner.

For the benefit of those coming late to the party, Birk's "Commedia" transplants Dante's original three-part epic of spiritual pilgrimage from 14th century Italy to present-day California and beyond. In place of Dante's terraced purgatorial mountain, we get a lived-in cityscape of beleaguered palm trees and sooty freeway cloverleafs. Instead of the original "Paradiso's" saints and angels in all their maddeningly indescribable beauty, behold St. Peter as a paunchy rent-a-cop, Dante's beloved Beatrice as an earthy chola, and a strangely australopithecan Adam who looks more Darwinian than biblical. As with Birk's still unsurpassed faux-historical "Great War of the Californias, " and his canvases of California prisons in the style of the great luminist painters Bierstadt and Moran, past and present commingle here in a great satirical danse macabre. The two new books play counterpoint not just to Gustave Dore's enduring 19th century Dante engravings but also to Birk's own first volume of last year. Where Birk's "Commedia" began with the depressing image of a toppled grocery cart beside a spray-painted concrete parking bollard, the 33rd and final canto of the "Paradiso" opens with what, in Birk's clear-eyed but undespairing vision, passes for hope: a similar shopping cart, only now upright, presumably aspiring heavenward. It ain't harps and halos, but it'll have to do. As with the tree in Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," which between the first and second act appears to sprout "four or five leaves," we don't get paradise -- just progress. " — San Francisco Chronicle

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