Dante and Popular Culture: Dantedi

  • DATE

    25 March 2024

  • TIME

    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome




    The Portico Library
    57 Mosley St, Manchester, M2 3HY

Emma Marigliano will show how Dante’s hold on the modern imagination has never been so strong.

T S Eliot said “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” This is probably because they both absolutely understood the human condition and verbalised it so imaginatively and graphically that their impact can still be felt – and seen – to this day.

Dante Alighieri was from Florence, Italy, wrote poetry and philosophical and political insights. He was forever exiled from his beloved Florence on an apparently trumped up charge and during this time he wrote his greatest and most enduring work, La Commedia – Divina was added around a century later. In many ways it was a testament to his journey in exile but also his own spiritual journey, in fact and imagination, from a place of turmoil to one of safety.

His epic poem, which took him from the depths of Inferno, through Purgatory and, finally, to the bliss of Paradise, continues to influence writers, artists, film-makers, and more in a variety of media to the present day. Dante’s graphic and painterly descriptions of Inferno and its ghastly punishments in particular has had the greatest effect on textual and visual interpreters and re-interpreters.

In this illustrated talk, Emma Marigliano will be looking at the influence that Dante has had on popular culture from the early film-makers, ‘Madmen’ and modern artists to Olive Oil, typewriters and slippers, from New York to Tokyo and comics to sand sculptures, Dante’s hold on the modern imagination has never been so strong.


Emma Marigliano was the Head Librarian of The Portico Library in Manchester until she retired in 2017. The Library’s holdings of a mainly 19th century collection of books stirred her passion for illustrated books as she believes that the illustrations add to a story or create a new one. After all, we learned from pictures before we learned words. Alice in Wonderland, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Elizabeth Gaskell’s illustrated editions are just a few of the subjects she has researched and spoken on. Her main interests, however, lie in illustrated editions and the art of Dante’s Divine Comedy from the mid 18th century in particular as evidenced by her own substantial collection.

Image: dantealighieri@virgilio.it (2021) by courtesy of the artist, Giuseppe Veneziano.