Friday, January 15, 2010

Very Briefly Noted: Dante's Inferno: you loved the game, now read the book!

by KARL STEEL









Talking about the video game version of Dante's Inferno is more the bailiwick of Got Medieval than In the Middle: see here, here, here, and here for more details. But if you've been cloistered so long that you're suffering from stubbly tonsure syndrome, listen up: via Penny Arcade, I learn that Random House will be publishing a video-game "novelization" tie-in of the Inferno (see here).

S'wonderful? No. S'weaksauce. Buyers will enjoy 16 (full! color!) pages of images providing background to the video game designer's process. No doubt the commentary will be as sharply written as this:
Their stunning and inventive take on Dante’s Inferno will be sure to wow players around the world and we are extremely proud to be able to provide those individuals with insight into the creative processes involved in adapting Dante to a new medium.
Worldwide wow. Extremely.

My greatest disappointment? It's not that the damsel in distress is named Beatrice instead of Florence. A depoliticized Dante is bad enough, but, still worse? The translation? Longfellow.

Pathetic. I realize Longfellow is public domain, but, still: thou shouldst try harder! Or, more generously, we can enjoy the odd temporal crossings of the fourteenth, nineteenth, and twenty-first century, and remember that this kind of reinvented plot is hardly unique to our era. Before anyone insults the game, take time to reread the Roman d'Enéas.

(and a tip-o'-the-hat to commenter Lan Nguyen at Got Medieval for turning up the trailer to the animated version of the game based on a poem. Me? I'll buy an Xbox when there's a video game version of Howl: you see, you'd play Allen the Junkie, dragging yourself through angry streets looking for a fix...)

5 comments:

Liam said...

Good lord. My stepson told me about this game, but I had no idea it featured Dante as a buff swordsman trying to... rescue Beatrice from hell?

They do get points for referring to it as "medieval" and not "renaissance."

Liam said...

My kid commented that now people who have played the game will say that they have read the book...

I thought, "Oh my God, now not only will I get papers from students who have only seen the movie of the book, but also from those who have only played a video game of the book."

Karl Steel said...

Liam, as Carl P. says at Got Medieval (third of my links to his blog):
"So next semester, when someone brings up Dante's role in the slaughter of the Muslims at Acre in class discussion, you can't say you weren't warned."

Good luck!

Brantley Bryant said...

I plan to play through this game for the greater medieval good. I'll report on how it goes.

I just hope they make Purgatorio and Paradiso into sequels. The sequence where you have to fit the pieces of the heavenly rose together in Paradiso will be inspired by tetris, I hear.

LF said...

OMG.

That poet's been going to the gym.