Digital Dante

Editor’s Journal

If you’ve listened to any of the Writing, Books, & Bourbon episodes of The Screw, then you’ve heard a bit about my novels. This is an update that won’t be in our upcoming podcasts. As a matter of fact, it’s a deviation from what we’ve previously recorded and will be posting in the coming month.

Right now, I’m letting the second draft of one manuscript rest while I work on the first draft of another. This novel was completely unexpected, but I’m now two and a half weeks into a work that’s tentatively titled, Dante.

If you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m turning The Divine Comedy into a novel, which is turning out to be a relatively painless process. Each of the 100 cantos are becoming a piece of flash fiction. At least, that’s my aim. I’ve dropped a canto or two already for the purposes of a better adaptation.

The Divine Comedy seems to lend itself to magical realism. We’re dealing with the underworld and the afterlife and our POV is from a living man, Dante. The only difference I see is that this poem combines realistic narrative with both dreams, fantasy, and nightmares.

To me, the most surreal elements of this epic work exist in the descriptions of those Dante meets along his way. And I’m endeavoring to enhance those elements of the story. So far, I confess that it’s been pretty grotesque (e.g. souls boiling in blood or burning inside their tombs).

In all honesty, I’m looking forward to Purgatory.

Justin Meckes

P.S. If you want to read The Divine Comedy, check out Columbia University’s Digital Dante.

Photo by Joshua Newton