Brother Michael Meister, F.S.C. recently contributed to one of the most unusual book projects of the year. He wrote a foreword to Dante's Inferno, a new translation of the Italian poet's classic that resets the tale in contemporary Los Angeles. The book, published this March, is illustrated by Southern California artist Sandow Birk and translated by Birk and writer Marcus Sanders. Brother Michael also consulted on the translations.
Setting Dante's epic in contemporary Los Angeles may seem a shock to purists, Brother Michael admitted. But it is also a kind of testimony.
"I think it's fascinating," he said. "I tell my students that the definition of the word 'classical' is that a work has not lost its ability to speak to us out of the past. When an artist does something like this, he is keeping the voice going. I think it's a remarkable idea, and apparently it has been very well received."
Trillium Press, in Brisbane, Calif., will publish 100 copies of the book, which includes more than 60 lithographs. Each copy, according to the Los Angeles Times Magazine (Feb. 16, 3003), will cost $3,000. A less expensive trade edition will be published in a year, said Brother Michael.
Art work from the book is scheduled to appear at the Hearst Art Gallery, on the Saint Mary's College campus, in January 2005. To learn more about the book, go to http://www.trilliumprints.com/trillm.htm.