Category: Reviews

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 18 – what is love?

Simon Chater

Virgil’s great exposition on love is centrally placed in the Comedy, occupying Cantos 17 and 18 of Purgatorio. With this, Dante signals that love, and the understanding of love, are at the heart of his poetic matter. Doctrinally, the ideas Dante attributes to Virgil are standard-issue medieval philosophy, derived from the teachings of Aristotle and […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 17 – better together

Simon Chater

Life’s not a zero-sum game, say the souls on the Terrace of Envy, so don’t live it that way. Dante doesn’t ‘get it’ at first, but Virgil explains. We have just met Guido del Duca, scion of one of the leading families of Romagna, the region next-door to Tuscany, where Dante comes from. Like all […]

I saw the monster but couldn’t see the point

Mick Fletcher

On a cold, dull and windy day I went to Weston to see the monster. At a distance it looked disappointingly small, dwarfed by miles of empty sand and sea, but as I walked along the beach it grew until its full scale was apparent. So, too, was its oddity. The monster – a repurposed […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 16 – enlightening grace

Simon Chater

The Divine Comedy is primarily a vision. It is the story of how one man, through grace, becomes pure in heart and hence able to see God. During his first night on the mountain, Dante’s damaged inner sight is cleansed and healed in preparation for the work of penitence that awaits him in purgatory proper. […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 14 – a dewy facial

Simon Chater

The first canto of Purgatorio celebrates our release from the pain and grief of hell. Virgil washes Dante’s face in the morning dew. Dante begins by announcing the change of mood: Boats and ships feature strongly in the Comedy, as symbols of the soul’s journey towards the divine. Here Dante is at the helm, his […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 13 – the hidden passage

Simon Chater

We are out of hell, but still close to the centre of the earth and it is still dark. Through the blackness, Dante can hear the trickling of a stream: The hidden passage that connects Inferno and Purgatorio is one of Dante’s masterstrokes, entirely his own invention. It conveys the idea that there is, after […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 9 – What, are YOU here?

Simon Chater

On burning sands, under a soft rain of flames, Dante meets his former mentor, Brunetto Latini. His “sin” is homosexuality, according to the dictates of formal religion. But what does Dante think? We are in the circle of the violent against God, nature and art. The naked souls here, whose baked features are caked with […]

The man behind Operation Mincemeat

Mick Fletcher

The film ‘Operation Mincemeat’ released over the Easter weekend, tells the exciting story of a key event in the second World War. The Germans were tricked into thinking that an attack on Europe from North Africa would start in Greece rather than the more obvious route through Sicily. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper called it “The most […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 5 – the gate of hell

Simon Chater
gateway to Hell

Led by Virgil, Dante sets out on his journey. At the entrance to hell he sees these words inscribed over a dark gateway: The famous line here is the last, wryly quoted today in many a workplace and home. The absence of hope is the defining feature of hell, as anyone stuck in a dead-end […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 4

Simon Chater
Dante's Inferno colour plate from early edition

Enter Virgil, voice of reason Continuing his series of dips into Dante, Simon Chater begins the descent into hell and finds some interesting parallels between Dante’s Florence and the world in 2022. Reason, sweet reason! How we – or some of us, at least – long for you in the age of Brexit, Trumpism and […]

Egyptian artefacts and enchanted arbours at Kingston Lacy

Valery Collins
Illuminated trees at Kingston Lacy

During the medieval period, the grand estate known as Kingston Lacy was part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne in Dorset. The manor house stood to the north of the present palazzo, close to a deer park. Supporters of the Crown were allowed to let the estate. After it was sold at […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Voices event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]

Valuing the feminine: the ‘Virgin’s Promise’

Sadie Parker

One of the things that makes life worthwhile is the opportunity to keep learning something new. The first week of the London Screenwriters’ Festival online has been what I’d call a ‘chocolate mousse’ learning experience – intense, exquisite and deliciously inspirational. Every session has been brilliant, and some have been a revelation, like Tales of […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 1 – the dark wood

Simon Chater

1. The Dark Wood Dante is at once the most influential and the most neglected of Europe’s poets. Since the early 14th century, when he wrote, he has inspired countless other writers in almost every European language, yet today he has few readers outside academia and Italy. In this series of commentaries written to mark […]

John le Carré: Traitor or Patriot?

Mike Zollo

“El Brexit es la mayor idiotez perpetrada por el Reino Unido” “Brexit is the greatest act of stupidity perpetrated by the United Kingdom” For many years I have followed with interest how some elements of the European press present the UK. Whenever there is a major event, it is fascinating to compare the treatment of […]

Calling young writers! Enter our competition!

Anthea Simmons

Are you based in Cornwall, Devon , Dorset or Somerset? Under 25? Want to write? We are a team of volunteer, citizen journalists and editors, passionate about the truth, democracy and good writing. We’ve been going since late August 2020 and have already had well over 300,000 readers and high levels of engagement on social […]

The Lizard’s vagabond girl

Jenny Steele Scolding

I lie in bed and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. I pull back the covers, cross the bedroom and settle into my rocking chair in front of the window that overlooks the sea. Down in the cove, the fishermen have pulled the boats up high; a storm is brewing. I always start […]

Ten unmissable picture books

Anthea Simmons

I love children’s picture books. Some of the most delicious artwork and the most delightful, moving and pitch-perfect writing is to be found within their enticing, large format covers. The best examples of the  genre work on many levels in pretty much the same way as classic films like Toy Story and ET. They appeal […]