In The Little Sublime Comedy John Gallas reanimates one of the great works of world literature for the twenty-first century. Relocated from medieval Italy to modern-day New Zealand, Dante’s Divine Comedy is given a new lease of life in Gallas’s darkly funny, surreal adaptation.
Discovered snoozing on a mountainside above Lake Rotoiti, Mr Gallas – our millennial Dante – is taken under the wing by his Horatian guide, one Samuel Beckett. Over the course of 147 ‘songs’ we accompany the pair on their journey through the Bad Place, the Better Place and the Good Place, and witness the horrors and delights that befall the dead.
On our way we encounter a skiing Pohutukawa Tree, a Golden Kiwi, Lineout the dog, a Vegetable Ewe, souls falling off things, Philosophy, and lots of bright, coloured lights. Divine order is replaced by modern Physics, by Klein bottles, super-speeds and black holes. Gallas’s Comedy is a metaphysical plunge through torment and triumph, as subtly satirical as it is unsubtly silly.