Mad Men does Dante

Not even advertising God Don Draper is immune to the wonders of Dante, it would seem. The first episode of season six of the cult show premiered on Sunday night and, to the delight of medievalists everywhere, the opening lines was a quotation from the Inferno. The episode opens on Draper, played by the delicious Jon Hamm, as a 1960s version of our poet, trapped in a revolving door (no doubt to represent the circles of Hell), reciting lines from the Commedia. Yet it seems that this allusion to Dante is a little more than just a passing reference as, Katherine Boyle writes in the Washington Post, series creator Matthew Weiner has been ‘ticking off sins since season one, circle by circle, providing a checklist of damnation straight from 1308’. Elsewhere, Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for online culture magazine ‘Vulture’, prophesies that there is more Dante-inspired drama to come from Draper et al, especially since the ‘opening double-episode, titled “The Doorway,” has Dante-esque intimations of hell, purgatory, death, and spiritual torment galore’.

Meanwhile, Dan Brown – author of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons – is set to burst back onto the literary scene next month with his hotly-tipped new novel, Inferno (Doubleday, 2013). And yes, this one’s also going to be firmly rooted in the depths of Dante’s Commedia. If the front cover is anything to go by – the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, partly obscured by a portrait of Dante – this is going to be one text worth savoring for all you Dante fans out there.


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