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UCL events news and reviews


At the gates of heaven: a beginner’s guide to Dante’s Paradiso

By Lara J Carim, on 7 February 2013

Only be prepared to be dragged through hell by someone you trust to lead you through purgatory to heaven.

This timeless life lesson was expressed by Abi Warburg, founder of the Warburg Institute, nearly 120 years ago in a letter to a friend, which unfavourably compared a literary sensation of the day to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The Divine Comedy – the 14th-century Italian epic charting the author’s mid-life crisis and subsequent enlightenment via a dramatic journey to hell and heaven – has been the subject of a pretty epic series of seminars, running from October 2012 to March 2013.

The Vision of Hell viii, iII. Gustave Doré (UCL Library Special Collections)

The Vision of Hell viii, iII. Gustave Doré

UCL Italian’s Professor John Took, Dr Alessandro Scafi (Warburg Institute) and Tabitha Tuckett from UCL Special Collections have been guiding Dante novices and specialists alike on a multi-sensory whistlestop tour of the great poem for the past four months.

This has involved scene-setting introductions, advice on key elements to listen out for and readings – in Italian and English – of selected pivotal cantos (verses) – all complemented by a changing display from UCL’s outstanding Dante Collection, dating back to the 15th century.