Thursday, January 14, 2010

Burn in Hell

Back in November, I made a post about an animated movie of the upcoming video game based on the title of a book by Dante. Well, it seems as if the villainy of Electronic Arts knows no bounds. Vladimir's player, who seems to enjoy inflicting mental anguish upon me, sent along a link to a post about a new edition of Inferno (as translated by Longfellow in 1867, if you can believe it) being published to coincide with the release of the video game. In addition to that atrocious cover, the new edition includes a color insert featuring art from the game and a foreword by its executive producer.

I'd love to believe that this edition might inadvertently open up a few minds to the glories of Dante's poetry, but the cynic in me just doesn't believe it.

47 comments:

  1. I'm assuming it is public domain so its not costing them anything but the paper its printed on. So why not try to scrape a few extra bucks out of the project. still exposure is exposure and if it makes one kid read a great book well then I'm ok with it. Now EA just needs to make Video Games versions of The Aeneid, The Sound and The Furry, and Ulysses. Who doesn't want to wander through a virtual early 20th century Dublin.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I saw the title of this post in my blog roll, I thought to myself:

    "That's it - James has finally gone off the deep end."

    While I'm happy to have been mistaken, I can't help but think how amusing that post I thought I was going to read would have been...

    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. @sevenbastard: yep, they downloaded the Project Gutenberg version and slapped some art they've already paid for on it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I sort of gathered that James went off the deep end a while back, actually.

    To see a work of literature mangled like this is really, truly morally reprehensible.

    Didn't anyone working on this project think that maybe, just to be on the safe side, it might not be a good idea to be associated with this project? You know, just in case there were legions of devils waiting out there, making the tenth layer of Hell for those who torture true works of art.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What's next, "Crime and Punishment the Collectible Card and Token Game"?

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Now EA just needs to make Video Games versions of The Aeneid"

    Don't be silly. An unabashed God of War clone of The Aeneid would have made sense.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @sevenbastard: "The Sound and The Furry"

    Please. No. There'd be yiffing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Closer examination of the image summons up the phrase "when Dante met dungeonpunk" in my mind. It's not a happy marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm sure theres a special place in hell for people who create this kind of junk. Not interested.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'd like to see Sense and Sensibility, the MMO. Or possibly Milton's Paradise Lost done as a driving game where you see heaven and hell as backgrounds. The english major in me wants to cry when I see shite like this.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not a fan of this myself, but I'm sure that at one time people said similar things about our favorite hobby. Also, I'm not a fan of the "parent" literature here so I'm not going to scream too much.

    Just keep in mind that it is a video game and seldom has any video game offered much more than a ton of good fun and flashy graphics. Whatever story is overlayed on it, it's usually about the action or the puzzle.

    I've played video games that butchered history, literature, and mythooligy and folklore and had a blast.

    Remember the gorgon was not a bronze bull before we got ahold of it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. In the seventh cirlce there is already a place set aside for the violent against art (Canto XVII).

    I'm sure the creators of this will find a comfy place there to spend eternity in a rain of fire with a purse around their necks .

    ReplyDelete
  13. Remember the gorgon was not a bronze bull before we got ahold of it!

    While the hobby certainly has its own examples of similarly egregious mangling of its source material, the gorgon is not an example of it. D&D's bull-like gorgon is based on a confusion in the late Middle Ages between the mythical catoblepas and stories of the rhinoceros, resulting in a creature that shared the name of Medusa and her sisters but lacked their characteristics.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I stand correected. ODdly enough I have never come across that connection and I'm into that stuff.

    Thank you for the correction though, as you generously allowed for, I think the point still stands.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love Dante's Comedy. I recognize it as humanity's single finest literary work.

    I am strongly in favor of this sort of cover being available. It will almost certainly get some people to buy it who otherwise would never so much as glance at Dante. And at least a few of those buyers will read it and continue with the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.

    In short, this cover = additional Dante lovers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "I'd love to believe that this edition might inadvertently open up a few minds to the glories of Dante's poetry, but the cynic in me just doesn't believe it."
    Ok... otherwise what's the problem?
    "What's next, "Crime and Punishment the Collectible Card and Token Game"?"
    No: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" the Movie, directed by David O. Russel... maybe :) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1374989/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Part of me wonders if WotC is anow a subsidiary of EA. I bet the TV spot includes "This ain't yer father's classic medieval literature" or something similar. They'll probably follow this up with an arcade fighter based on the Ramayana and Dance Dance Revolution clone for Journey to the West. A Guitar Hero expansion inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms is likely also in the works.

    Actually, I am unashamed to admit that Wickedmurph's idea about a driving game based on Milton is something I can see myself playing the crap out of.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Having worked at a bookstore way back at the time the DiCaprio "Romeo+Juliet" movie came out, I can attest that this will likely sell really well.

    We had so many teenage girls coming in (and a few adults) wanting to buy Romeo and Juliet.

    Although when we sold out of the ones with the movie tie-in cover, lots of them refused to buy it, despite our assurances that was the exact same text inside.

    So whether they read it, or just look at the pretty pictures is anyone's guess. But it will sell, as sad as that is.

    WV--yambit: womanizing, Cajun mutant sweet potato

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Ray: Gadzooks, you got me. I will be re-reading this book after I finish the Odyssey.

    Hmm, SyFy's Odyssey had more boobs than the one I am reading. :(

    ReplyDelete
  20. I haven't been impressed by any translation other than that of John Sinclair, OUP 1961.

    Anyone who tries to read Dante without a fascination for the Christian concept of sin won't stay the course, monster pics or no.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Restless, "As I Lay Dying" would probably make a better Faulkner video game, burly dude luggin a coffin on his shoulders completeing the level before the Stink-O-Meter expires.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Nice post title. Sure caught my eye.

    I've ignored the few mentions I've seen of this game. Horrible idea. Maybe they think they're doing for Dante's Inferno what the Robert Zemeckis film did for Beowulf.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ha-ha! Man, that's really an awful illustration.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Grapes of Wrath" the RPG.
    "As you head to California from the dust bowl, who will survive? Can you survive drought, starvation, strikebreakers and the elements form your own "cooperative" and unionize to survive the horrible conditions, or will you become another grave on the road to freedom? PLUS: Stats for the entire Joad family included!"

    ReplyDelete
  25. Myself, I don't see the least problem with this. To the extent that it gets anyone to read and enjoy Dante's work, good for them! To the extent that it doesn't, who's been injured?

    It's all well and good to say that a book, game, etc. isn't to your taste. Labeling it as idiocy and calling those behind it villains, however, strikes me as over the top.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This book is just a goofy reskinning of the same edition that Penguin and Barnes & Noble publish. I'm not sure where the harm is, if a kid who wouldn't otherwise read the book until college picks it up a few years early. Hell, I haven't read Dante's Inferno yet. Maybe I'll buy a copy of this edition, nyah nyah so there.

    "They'll probably follow this up with an arcade fighter based on the Ramayana and Dance Dance Revolution clone for Journey to the West. A Guitar Hero expansion inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms is likely also in the works."

    Not to spoil a good rant, but I can pick up at least two shovelware Wii games based on Journey to the West at Target for $15 a pop right now, and I've seen about half a dozen others, even if you don't count any of the Dragon Ball games. (The original Dragon Ball anime -- not the Z or GT series -- was inspired by Journey to the West.) And Romance of the Three Kingdoms has inspired not one, but two long-running videogame franchises from Koei: Romance of the Three Kingdoms (natch), and Dynasty Warriors.

    Point is, classics are classics because they bear up to reinterpretation. They're not sacred writ -- in fact, they're often the popular entertainment of their time, and that's probably a good portion of why they bear up and stand the test of time in the first place.

    Word verification: THOTARR (the barbarian)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anyone who tries to read Dante without a fascination for the Christian concept of sin won't stay the course, monster pics or no.

    Precisely. Only a medievalist, in the worst sense of the word.

    Oddly, my Word Verification is simply: "bliss". Perhaps I should retract my comment...

    ReplyDelete
  28. As a bookstore manager, now I get to look forward to every single person who buys this book returning it. I've already had inquiries (they started last week).

    Cust. "I don't think this is it."

    Me. "It is."

    Cust. "It's supposed to be based on a video game."

    Me. "The video game is based on the book. LOOSELY."

    Cust. "This isn't the right cover."

    Me. (Taking them to the computer, looking it up and turning the screen to face them) "Is this it?"

    Cust. "Yeah, THAT'S it!"

    Me. "Same book. Even the same translation. Just a different cover."

    Cust. "Is it good?"

    How the hell do I answer that? "Yes but you're not likely to understand or appreciate it?" So I say, "I think so."

    Cust. "Okay. But can you order me the one with the badass on the cover?"

    ReplyDelete
  29. A few days ago you rhetorically asked which author's work had been most butchered...

    ReplyDelete
  30. The people responsible for this won't go to Hell, because if they did they'd make the metal hand sign and say "exTREEEEME!"

    ReplyDelete
  31. Maybe someone might complain that it is different from the game... "Hey! Why Dante is not kikking ass to Malacoda and his fellow devils? There's something wrong!".
    But I dont understimate the Comedia (expecially the Inferno) ability to fascinate the youth...

    ReplyDelete
  32. http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/1/15/

    Haha, here's Penny Arcade opinion about it which I find interesting (but a little bit vulgar which isn't suprising from PA):

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/2010/1/15/

    ReplyDelete
  33. Heaven help me, I want to play this game.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have to be honest, I'm really failing to see the problem here. The text hasn't been altered has it? You can complain that the game or the art aren't true to the text, but anyone reading will be able to make that determination for themselves. If it gets even one kid to read something they would not otherwise have bothered with, isn't that a good thing?

    ReplyDelete
  35. I really did try to read the poem and it was so painful that I couldn't get past the 2nd chapter. Too much prose for me caused my mind to explode.

    The video game is fun. It's a new spin on the God of War type play. If you liked that and enjoy button mashing goodness then you'll like Dante's Inferno. I'll be picking it up when it hits 29.99.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Yes, I have to say, I don't see a problem with this book. The game is likely to be an atrocity, but the book is going to get at least one person reading Dante who wouldn't have done so otherwise, and that strikes me as a good thing. I don't like film/TV/game covers for books, but I don't look down on those who buy them.

    (Unless the cover art is really bad, like the US editions of Terry Pratchett's work, but that's a whole other thing.)

    Furthermore, I suspect there may be a bit of glasshouses and stones here; I'm sure I'm not the only person to have plundered great works of art to spice up a game session. :)

    Anyway, the key point is that this will create more Dante readers. Good.

    ReplyDelete
  37. What's the outrage? As long as this thing gets a single person on Earth discover and appreciate Dante, it was worth it. Snobbery won't get you anywhere, and it certainly won't help a bit in bringing classical lit to the unwashed masses.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Really, Volja? I think that anyone taken by that cover is in for a big letdown when they read Dante. I don't see the unwashed masses feeling more inclined to picking up the book or knowing who Dante was. Did Beowulf fly off the shelves after the movie, boardgame and PC/console game? Not from the local bookstores around me.

    I see this as being less a snob and more a realist.

    ReplyDelete
  39. > What's the outrage?

    I'm still needing convincing this ain't just a conspiracy to wind up James. ;)

    What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
    Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
    'Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.


    *tries http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7R3_B23Xc4&fmt=18 , anyhow* :p

    > As long as this thing gets a single person on Earth discover and appreciate Dante, it was worth it.

    +/- *nods*

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm surprised it took so long for a Penny Arcade link to show up. I'm not surprised that no one linked to Got Medieval.
    http://gotmedieval.blogspot.com/search/label/dante's%20inferno:%20the%20game
    I wish he tagged more consistently - he's written quite a bit more about this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'll share the outrage. The "just one more reader" argument doesn't hold water IMO. Here's my criticisms:

    (1) It's fraudulent marketing. People will be picking this up looking for a continuation of the video game, which it's not. Scams suck. (2) Overall energy towards Dante's work will be negative. While one reader may be gained, a thousand will be turned off and be telling their friends to avoid Dante and that it sucks. Overall loss for the reading communty. (3) Sympathy for the poor bookstore workers (nextautumn above) whose ongoing grief outweighs the "just one more reader" principle.

    ReplyDelete
  42. James, I have similar feelings toward the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake. You can now watch the trailer with dudes leaping through the air in slow-mo to wailing rock guitars.

    ReplyDelete
  43. > It's fraudulent marketing. People will be picking this up looking for a continuation of the video game, which it's not.

    Top line, front cover; "The literary classic that inspired".

    If someone's happy to blindly hand over their $$$ under the impression that means the book is "a continuation of the video game", well so be it.
    Other books have been sold in more dubious covers and it didn't scar their readers for life or even stop 'em from being drawn in hook, line and sinker.
    Got lions and emus... only in Hobbiton. Apparently. http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1274/1290165828_77b1155c66.jpg
    To say nothing of http://mysite.verizon.net/aznirb/mtr/oop/ace_return.jpg - darn, don't they know it should have a knob on the end: Gandalf ain't going to get anywhere waving that around, methinks.

    ReplyDelete
  44. > In addition to that atrocious cover

    Ah... any comments on the "What I'm reading update" in that context? And it /is/ a BGS this time... :)
    Will stick to the http://www.flickr.com/photos/jvk/4132481515/in/set-72157622794027335/ version on the shelf here, anyhow. ;)

    codeword:alowanc (to greet bowdlerised Vancian servants (7))

    ReplyDelete
  45. James, I have similar feelings toward the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake.

    Yes, I saw those trailers and they left me thinking -- and I can barely believe I'm saying this -- "Did they not understand the original film?" Whereas the original was a sword-and-sorcery film with basic plot was (largely) consonant with Greek mythology, this new one looks to be a video game-y action film with a lame will-to-power subtext about defying the will of the gods. I'm not quite clear why they're bothering to "remake" Clash of the Titans when the new film deviates from it significantly.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I sort of gathered that James went off the deep end a while back, actually.

    To write this much on a blog I'd have to be crazy, wouldn't I?

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.