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Dante and Alasdair Gray: A Scottish Journey through The Divine Comedy



Dante and Alasdair Gray: A Scottish Journey through The Divine Comedy

The University of Glasgow and the Alasdair Gray Archive, with the support of the University of Verona and the Italian Institute of Culture, invite you to a symposium and reading commemorating 700 years since the death of Dante in 1321 and Alasdair Gray’s translation of The Divine Comedy, his last major work before his death in 2019.

This event comprises short papers discussing aspects of how Gray’s version differs distinctively from other versions of Dante in translation and from the original, then opens out to examine references to Scotland in The Divine Comedy and what Dante knew of the country; the significance of Dante for Gray; representations of Dante’s work in Scottish classical music and the visual arts; and finally, readings from Dante presented alongside corresponding passages in Gray’s translation.

This event is a commemoration of Dante and Alasdair Gray, cementing connections between Scotland and Italy, celebrating the cultural achievements of both nations, and presenting them in an international context with specific reference to these two major writers, and in the appreciation of the arts complementary to literature, especially music, painting, drawing and sculpture.

Organised by Sorcha Dallas, Simona Manca, Alan Riach & Carla Sassi.

Image courtesy of Canongate.


16:00: Gray, Dante and Scotland

  • Carla Sassi (Chair): ‘An Introduction: Reading Gray and Dante’
  • Daragh O’Connell: ‘Dante between Belfast and Glasgow: Alasdair Gray, Ciaran Carson and Philip Terry’
  • Susan Bassnett, ‘Dante in translations’ (Title TBC)
  • Joseph Farrell: ‘Scotland in Heaven and Hell: Scottish references in The Divine Comedy’

17:00: Text, Visualisation and Music

  • Alan Riach (Chair): ‘Dante “remediated”: William Blake, August Rodin, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Charles Olson, Tom Scott, Hugh MacDiarmid’
  • Murdo Macdonald: ‘Dante and Visual Art: A Scottish Perspective’
  • John Purser: ‘Pictures from Dante by two Scottish composers: Erik Chisholm and William Wallace’

18:00: Readings

Lucilla Giagnoni and Alan Riach: Readings from Dante’s Inferno and Paradiso in Italian and from corresponding passages in Gray’s Dante.

18:20: Discussion and Q&A

18:30: Thanks and Close Event


  • Susan Basnett, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Glasgow, Professor Emerita, University of WarwickJoseph
  • Farrell, Emeritus Professor of Italian, University of Strathclyde
  • Lucilla Giagnoni, Italian actress, scriptwriter, author
  • Murdo Macdonald, Emeritus Professor of History of Scottish Art, University of Dundee
  • Daragh O’Connel, Director of Dante Studies in Ireland, and Head of Research in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University College, Cork
  • John Purser, Researcher, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands, SkyeAlan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow
  • Carla Sassi, Associate Professor of English, University of Verona

For further information please visit: 






Date: Thursday, December 09, 2021

Time: From 4:00 pm To 6:30 pm

Organized by : The University of Glasgow and the Alasdair Gray Archive

In collaboration with : Italian Institute of Culture and University of Verona

Entrance : Free