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Shelley Berc's A Girl's Guide to The Divine Comedyis a reimagining of Dante Alighieri's Commedia as a late20th-century American play that makes telling points about contemporary culture. In part 1 a female Dante descends into hell not to learn the nature of sin as her medieval counterpart does but to realize the depth of the female artist's exile from the political and artistic life of the dominant, androcratic, culture. Part 2's satire inverts the medieval purgatorial ascent with real-estate-agent Virgil and porn-star Beatrice trying to persuade Dante, now a male, to accept the culture's money-based, celebrity-oriented values. Part 3 of each work culminates in a vision. One difference, however, is that whereas the medieval vision is empyreal, the contemporary vision is terrestrial. A second difference is that the contemporary Dante, a girl again, relates in a narrative the vision of community for which she was put to death. Understanding the penalty exacted for a minority perception, she voluntarily returns to the underworld to give voice to other exiles.

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