Dan Brown is one of the writers contributing to this years Festival – a publishing phenomenon, his sixth book (released 14th May by Random House), Inferno will return to the world of Robert Langdon, the symbologist that has explored The Da Vinci Code and found The Lost Symbol.

His next mystery is ensconced in the world of literature, and specifically Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of the beautiful, strange, evocative and allegorical poem The Divine Comedy (La divina commedia), which has partly come to symbolise the beginning of the Renaissance through its achievement in literary brilliance.

Brown’s Langdon finds himself “drawn into a harrowing world centred on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces”, allowing a focus to emerge on “the enduring influence of Dante’s work on the modern world” while surveying his familiar interest in codes and puzzles.

While Brown’s work folds in 21st century’s conspiratorial attitudes, Dante’s work speaks to 14th century preoccupations, with Dante wandering through hell, accompanied by Virgil, observing the nine circles that encompass all kinds of suffering; Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery – fertile ground for a 21st century author to revisit.

Dante’s work remains interesting because it speaks to universal truths, and its searching nature for life’s meaning, lyrical language and epic narrative have exploded through subsequent centuries with radiance and meaning:

And just as he who, with exhausted breath,

having escaped from the sea to shore,

turns to the perilous waters and gazes.

Inferno, Canto I, lines 22-24.

The festival’s official bookseller, the lovely Gutter Bookshop will be hosting a bookclub in the week preceding the festival, with 14th May designated for Dante’s Inferno. Write to, telephone 01 6799206, or pop in to reserve a place, and for tickets to An Evening with Dan Brown at the Concert Hall on Monday 20th May, go to, or telephone 01 4170000.

For a chance to win a pair of tickets to Dan Brown, email with the answer to this trivia question – How many parts are there to Dante’s Divine Comedy, and what are they called? Answers by Friday 5th April!


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