Fall Sweeps


Arts & Culture


Something is gnawing at the nape of your skull: on the one hand, your favorite fall shows are coming back. But you just read an article about synaptic pruning, the process by which your brain eliminates neurons that don’t get any exercise. And whether or not there’s any truth to this neurological use-it-or-lose-it theory, you’ve nonetheless come to the conclusion that your brain is on the brink of self-destruction. Which is to say: it will get rid of every neuron that hasn’t got anything to do with watching Netflix, looking at Buzzfeed, or eating food that’s terrible for you past 3 A.M.

You want to watch Boardwalk Empire—what will happen to Nucky Thompson, or Richard Harrow? You want to catch up on The Walking Dead, but then you remember that synaptic pruning, and a frightening question about the difference between you and an actual zombie floats through your head.

The convenience of hour-long shows is that they often air on Sunday night, when you have nothing to do. We have a compromise. Don’t spend an hour on the latest would-be cable sensation; instead, tune in for the first season of The Divine Comedy, the hot, new (relatively speaking) series by Dante. Every week, ideally on Sunday at 9 P.M., read one canto—often less than 140 lines!—of what may be the best poem ever written. Season 1 is called the Inferno—think of it as your new Home Box Office.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a teaser with fast cuts and a voice over about one man’s trip through hell that can be embedded into this post, but here are some positive early reviews:

“Dante’s masterpiece is one of the supreme works of art that the ages have witnessed.” —Theodore Roosevelt

“I love Dante almost as much as the Bible. He is my spiritual food, the rest is ballast.” —James Joyce

“Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.” —T. S. Eliot

And just as every landmark show requires a thorough recap (had you really seen an episode of Mad Men until a a blogger pointed out all the “themes”?), so too will we bring you Dante recaps every week. Go to Barnes & Noble, or BookCourt, or use your parents’ Amazon Prime membership, and pick up the Inferno. We prefer the Hollander translation. The premiere is this Sunday.

To catch up on our Dante series, click here.

Alexander Aciman is the author of Twitterature. He has written for the New York Times, Tablet, the Wall Street Journal, and TIME. Follow him on Twitter at @acimania.