In which Beth goes to Hell (merrily)

Florentine Scribblings

I have the greatest term paper topic ever. I’m taking a class on Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio this semester, and for my term paper, I get to pull together my own version of Hell.


So what does this entail? Well, May’s short story will be written by Thursday (nothing like a little pressure). And I get to explore Hell, complete with my own guide, decide which sins end up where, the punishment, and so forth. It’s going to be great.

At this point, I’m part of the way through Hell. I’ve been through the antechamber, down through the first two levels. By this afternoon, I’ll have made it through all six. Why six? From what I remember from my Biblical literature courses, six is an imperfect number. There will be seven sections to my Hell, and an eighth section occurring outside of Hell (creating the seven days of one’s life and the eighth day of the Resurrection…what I’ve learned here in Florence).

Well, I’m off to Hell. I’ll be back soon.

Incipit vita nova

Florentine Scribblings

Though I’m not set to depart Florence until May, I know there are three things that I’ll leave with—a kick-ass shoe collection, a taste for capuccini and a love of Dante Alighieri. My course on Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio is amazing—it may be my favorite course (definitely my favorite lit course!). My professor is incredibly knowledgeable about Dante, not to mention sarcastic and quite funny.
It’s odd, but because of this course, things are starting to make sense. While I still don’t like politics, I can see their importance in the way the world works. How people can love their city/country so much that they risk everything for it (and often sacrifice everything). The connections between politics and the written word are falling into place. By understanding the world that Dante lived in, I can better understand his writing. If I care half as much as he did, my world would make more sense, and from there, I’ll have a better grasp of my own writing. There goes my internal romantic.
And his words! Oh, they are so perfect, so beautiful. I wish I could write such things. “Dante never made mistakes in his writing. In his life, yes, but in his writing, no,” my professor said this morning. Every word choice was deliberate. Every thought executed exactly. If only language had not changed so much over time, so we could better comprehend his meaning. Gentle, sweet, honest—all of these words meant something else in Dante’s day.
Dante begins La Vita Nuova:

“In quella parte del libro de la mia memoria dinanzi a la quale poco si potrebbe leggere, si trova una rubrica la quale dice: Incipit vita nova. (In that part of the book of my memory before which little could be read, a rubric is found that says: [Here begins the new life]).”

So, here begins my new life. However, not one changed by Love, but one changed by Thought.

Looking Ahead: Some Goals for 2010

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

As 2009 winds down, I turn my thoughts from Christmas dinner (roast beef and English roast potatoes…yum!) and the year ahead. 2009 was a good year and the blank expanse of 2010 is promising (if daunting). I have a few writing goals set for myself.

1. Write one(+) short story a month

Given that my short story production this year was…three…this will be a definite improvement. I hope to write a variety of genres. Fantasy, sci fi, historical, mystery…who knows?

2. Submit work/enter contests

I’ve received some encouragement to submit various short stories to magazines. I’ve wanted to submit my work since high school, but never felt that I was good enough for publication outside of the school literary magazine (and have refrained from my college’s lit mag because my work is so atypical of what they publish). Part of my hesitation is rejection, but I know I’ll have to deal with it. Aim high, fall fast; I have years to improve.

3. Read more

Yes, I need to read more. I always do (I’ve joked about changing the name of the blog to She Reads Too Much). Fortunately, my courses for next semester look like they’ll be chock full of interesting (and informative) reads: I’m taking a course on Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio along with one on Florentine architecture.

4. Write another novel

I’m going to write the first draft, with hope. Either my pilots or my alt reality WWIIesque Resistance piece. Although this may be pushed aside due to writing my thesis/distinction piece/grad school applications. Though, I do have roughly a month before the semester begins, and two months summer vacation…hmmm…I’ll just have to not let research distract me too much. 😀

Photo (C) Beth