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Multilingual 'Divine Comedy' marathon to take place Tuesday at Illinois

Eleonora Stoppino
Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

Eleonora Stoppino, a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature, has organized a Dante marathon for Oct. 23. The entire "Divine Comedy" will be read aloud.

« Click photo to enlarge

10/19/2012 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — England, Greece, heaven, hell, Portugal, Poland, purgatory and Russia – all these locales will be on the itinerary Tuesday (Oct. 23) when the Italian studies program at the University of Illinois hosts a Dante marathon. Beginning at 9 a.m., Dante’s “Divine Comedy” will be read aloud, in its entirety, following a tradition that dates back to the first circulation of the 14th-century text in Florence, Italy. In a gesture meant to engage the broader campus community, the reading will involve speakers of more than a dozen languages, ranging from the text’s original Italian to Arabic, Catalan, Czech, English, French, Galician, German, modern Greek, Hungarian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Eleonora Stoppino, a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature and the organizer of the event, said she has received commitments from many literature lovers wanting to participate in the reading.

“It’s a universal work that can be read and appreciated by people who don’t necessarily study literature or plan to study literature,” she said. “Many people love the ‘Divine Comedy’ and they come with their own translations, their own books. I almost have to do nothing for it to happen.”

She hosted a similar event in 2008, and hopes to make the marathon an annual occurrence, encompassing every language spoken and studied at the U. of I.

The event will take place in the Lucy Ellis Lounge in the Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. Throughout the readings, the text will be projected in both Italian and English, Stoppino said, so that everyone can follow along, no matter what language is being read aloud. The library will provide translation texts. Except for a one-hour lunch break, the reading will continue until all 100 cantos have been read, ending about 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public to drop in and listen for a few minutes or a few hours.

For more information, contact Stoppino at

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