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The Fracturing and Reintegration of the Self in *Severance* as Commentary on Dante’s *Inferno*

Updated: Apr 13

This essay contains major spoilers for the show Severance.

It has been argued that Dante's metaphysical worldview is alien to modern culture and that his cleavage makes the constitutive system of the Commedia almost incomprehensible for a modern reader. In Christian Moevs’ introduction to Dante’s metaphysics, for example, he argues that Dante's "understanding of reality is so foreign to our own" due to "widely diffused post-Enlightenment pre-suppositions" (3). In his review of Mandelbaum’s translation of the Commedia, James Merrill notes: “what a shock it is, opening the Comedy, to leave today’s plush avant-garde screening room … and use our own muscles,” implying that the contemporary film viewer has their interpretive work done for them (30). The formalist view of the contrast between Dante and the modern film is also present in Osip Mandelstam’s essay on the poet, where he compares modern cinema to a tapeworm that "turns a malicious parody on the function of instruments in poetic speech since its frames … merely succeed one another" (102). Mandelstam points to a lack of what he calls “differentiated impulses” in film, whose collision creates the phenomenally complex universe of Dante’s Commedia. While it is true that the “differentiated impulses” of Dante’s masterpiece are incomparable to those of film, I would like to suggest that modern media, such as television, attempt to translate not only Dante's imagery but also its underlying structures, as they pertain to present-day concerns. I will analyze the “frozen-time chronotope” of a fractured self in Dante’s lower circles of Inferno, and compare the concepts he uses to the television show Severance (2022). I propose that the show presents late capitalist societal culture as Dantesque lowest circles of Hell, with no way out and no resolution. Conforming to the existing culture amounts to a "severance procedure" and the permanent split of the self. Resistance is only possible as a reintegration of the self, which makes life intolerable in these circumstances.

Dante and Modern Cinema

The concept of Bakhtinian chronotope is essential to the exploration of the connection between Dante and modern cinematic experiments, as the time-space constellations in both the Commedia and the avant-garde television that echoes it play a vital role in the meaning-making process. Bakhtin defines the chronotope as “the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature” ("Chronotope" 84). For Dante, the intrinsic connectedness of time and space are central as they establish the movement of “contrapasso”—the precise way every sinner requites for their transgression. Being endlessly blown in circles by the wind, for example, reflects the inner state of inconstancy and disloyalty, as the sinners are bound to keep moving within the same space and time. Bart Testa, in his explorations of Dante-related modern film, writes, "these films ... have a relation of radical otherness to the movie industry … in this place of alterity the abyss of time, between Dante and cinema, opens to view" (189). Testa suggests that perhaps paradoxically, it is the "radical otherness," the acknowledged abyss between Dante and the modern film, that establishes the connection. He argues that in "exacerbating their modernity" the films "make the abyssal chasm between us and Dante … the issue. They do so by making time itself their problem" (190). Testa’s remarks establish the otherness and difference as connecting tissue between the original text and the modern interpretation but also state that the problem of temporality in both is central to the connection.

The expression of the "intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships” that Bakhtin explores in multiple literary genres, while essential to the Commedia, is also notoriously complex. Besides the carefully crafting diagrams of Dante’s universe and its spatial situatedness in relation to various actual places on the planet, the situatedness of the events in time as “nel mezzo del cammin de nostra vita”—“in the middle of the path of our life” (direct translation), which suggests an equidistant point equally removed from the beginning and the end of “our” life, a balancing of perfect in-betweenness of Dante (Dante 1.1). Teodolinda Barolini notes that “‘Nel mezzo’ [is] a middle-point/meeting-point of cultural imbrication” and includes in the implied meanings of it “1) the existential mezzo, from Aristotle’s definition of time as a “kind of middle-point” in the Physics 2 and 2) the ethical mezzo, from Aristotle's definition of virtue as residing at the mean" (Barolini Canto 1). The "mezzo" point also reflects the temporal quality of the text (and the place), where everything perpetually exists in the present moment. All the movement in the Commedia happens in circular form, as if unable to escape not only place but also the unmoving time. This perpetual presence of Dante's text, in general, reaches its maximal point in the last three cantos—the lowest circle of Hell—where everything seems to be completely frozen and unmoving, except for the wind emitted by Satan. Describing the scene as he visits it in the company of his guide Virgil, Dante’s pilgrim says, “At this I turned and saw in front of me, / beneath my feet, a lake that, frozen fast, / had lost the look of water and seemed glass” (Dante, Mandelbaum 32.22-24). The main characteristic of water is, of course, its fluidity: its ability to take any form, its free-flowing movement. Water is also often used as a symbol of the flow of time. These particular attributes are used here to indicate the abnormal quality of the stability Dante describes. It is not just glass, but glass that is actually immobilized water—something that should be in movement but is not. This immovable stability indicates a kind of middle of the middle, as Dante says, “And while we were advancing toward the center / to which all weight is drawn—I, shivering / in that eternally cold shadow—” (“E mentre ch’andavamo inver’ lo mezzo") (32.73-75 emphasis added). Dante’s pilgrim moves from the mezzo of the selva oscura—the point in the woods where the journey begins; he has to move through each circle to the eventual centre of Hell itself—the eternally cold shadow of immovable water, where he claims, “I / know not if it was will or destiny or chance” that brought him there (32.76-77). At this point in his journey, Dante's pilgrim can hardly determine whether he himself chose to be there by will, or whether his way to that place was pre-ordained by external forces or destiny, or a result of a chaotic and disorganized flow of events and coincidences—chance. His connection to determined cause and effect links has been severed.

The severance of these connections is important with regard to the supposed principles of Dante’s metaphysics, which, according to Christian Moevs, determine the Intellect as the primary source and time-space continuum: “(1) the world of space and time does not itself exist in space and time: it exists in Intellect (the Empyrean, pure conscious being)” (4-5). The journey, in this case, is ultimately about the unification of the self and full self-realization. The lost state of Dante’s pilgrim, who does not comprehend what brought him to the lowest circle of Hell, mirrors the disconnectedness of the self from its source, which is characteristic of the place. It also reflects the circular character of movement in the perpetual present, where various options have equal weight and are interchangeable without any determinable result. Moevs argues that in Dante, the extreme realism of the time-space situatedness is the product of the underlying need to reconnect to the source of the self. He states that the Commedia’s “unprecedented realism, its irresistible continuity with spatiotemporal experience … is thus intrinsic to its purpose: to understand how this fictive textual world becomes inescapably real is to awaken to the sense in which the spatiotemporal world is fictive (contingent or relatively ‘unreal’)” (10). In this way, the realism of the work underlines the unreal nature of actual human existence. This juxtaposition and the idea of space and time existing only to demonstrate their non-existence creates an interesting bind in Dante's text: the allegorical and literal readings thus become not opposite or even complementary ways of reading the text but contain one another.

Dante’s Lowest Circles of Betrayal

In the lowest circles of Dante’s Inferno, those guilty of betrayal are perpetually frozen in space and time. Barolini states in her commentary: “Dante uses sparingly the conventional iconography for Hell, the biblical fire and brimstone ... he is original in producing ice at the pit of hell” (Canto 34). The cold of the ninth circle is depicted as beyond anything human or familiarly terrestrial; as Dante notes, "The Danube where it flows in Austria, / the Don beneath its frozen sky, have never / made for their course so thick a veil in winter," describing the frozen lake Cocytus (32.25-27). This level of freezing, beyond anything humans have experienced, points to the idea of inhuman or unnatural cold, the kind that lies beyond the normal cycle of seasons and the wheel of natural change. Barolini argues that Dante adopts this approach from the tradition of petrose lyrical poems, which “are winter poems, poems that explore a love that renders the self stone-dead and ice-cold ... icy death of the rime petrose is subjective and psychological, part of the lyric trope whereby the self is “wintry” and dead while the rest of creation participates in the warm springtime of reciprocated love” (Canto 32). Interesting to note that, in the lyrics, it is love that renders the heart dead and cold, and not hate or indifference; love that is not reciprocated creates a broken cycle, a lack of a full circle of life and creation, where things can attain futurity. This kind of love remains immobilized and circles only back to itself without creating bonds and establishing connections, thus creating the closed-circuit chronotope of frozen time and enclosed space. The thread of love and its variations and expressions is central, of course, to the whole narrative of the Commedia, but takes an unexpected turn in the lowest circles of Inferno. Relevant to this is the idea of the frozen glass of Cocytus as a reflection of the self, to which Barolini also points in her commentary, as she states, "Cocytus is a lake of glass in which the self is mirrored, for the journey through Hell, which now draws to an end, is about recognizing evil not only in others: we must also recognize evil in ourselves" (Canto 32). Two ideas converge here: self-reflection, as I have argued earlier, like a broken cycle of love, where one is completely enclosed in one's own self, and self-reflection as the ability to see one's own faults without self-justification. The sinners who can only look down and the sinners whose eyes are too ridden with frozen tears to see their surroundings and reflection also show the importance of seeing in the lowest part of Hell.

The cold also signifies the lack of warmth, and Barolini points out that this relates to Dante's Augustinian anti-Manichaeism, which negates evil as a transcendent principle in itself and affirms it as a lack of good (Canto 34). Thus, after having travelled through all the circles that embody human evils, Dante arrives at the understanding that evil in itself does not exist but is an expression of lack. Evil is a non-thing. Lucifer, in his overbearing and gigantic presence that also emanates wind—the only movement in the ninth circle—is also an expression of nothingness that appears to be something that Dante has to transcend in order to leave Hell.

The themes of immobility and lack are also reflected in the main story of the Inferno’s last three cantos—Count Ugolino’s account. In his story, he is locked in a tower with his children: “A narrow window in the Eagles’ Tower, / which now, through me, is called the Hunger Tower, / a cage in which still others will be locked” (33.22-24). The tower symbolically represents a protective but also restrictive static and immobilizing space—thick stone walls and only “a narrow window” to communicate with the outside world. In Ugolino's account, the immobile stasis of the tower is connected to the lack—hunger—that he is forced to experience there. However, it is important to note that Ugolino's lack is not simply an externally enforced lack of food. He also experiences a lack of language to support his children as he meets their needs with stony silence, as well as a lack of recognition of his children as important actors in the story. Indeed, the victim of his account is him, as he states, "the cruel death devised for me— / you now shall hear and know if he has wronged me," emphasizing that death was "devised for me" and the enemy "wronged me" and only mentioning the deaths of others as an additional punishment for himself (33.20-21).

The last three cantos, as well as all the remaining sub-divisions of Hell, are dedicated to the sin of betrayal. While the traitors are punished differently for the kinds of betrayals they commit, there is also a strange homogeneity to the zone of the frozen Cocytus; as Robert Hollander observes, "the ice of Cocytus is not marked ... with clear delineators that separate one sin from another," suggesting a lack of boundaries for betrayal, which itself is a crossing of the lines of trust (599). The lack of boundaries between the Cocytus’ circles of ice is mirrored by the lack of boundaries between the self and other and between the human and non-human. The sinner who chews on the other’s head has a “bestial sign,” as Hollander notes, “reflecting the words of St. Paul: ‘But if you bite one another, take heed or you will be consumed by one another’” (Galatians 5:15, Hollander 602). Dante’s pilgrim interrogates the sinner for the “cause” of his “hatred for the one on whom [he feeds]," thus attempting to separate the two humans and establish logical connections—language-determined boundaries—in their acts (Dante 33.133-135). Though Ugolino proves to be an eloquent speaker, his language fails him when he needs to use it to express love for his children. Instead, he claims, “Within, I turned to stone,” again collapsing the boundary between the human and non-human (33.49). The non-human here expresses not the undesirable "lower" stratum of being, but rather the lack of stability of the self. One must know who one is and stay loyal to that—a human must remain human, a stone must remain stone. Self-knowledge and loyalty to one's self emerge as central to the poem and especially to the lowest circle of Hell.

Related to the question of loyalty and integrity of the self is the puzzling problem of the soul-body separation in Inferno. Hollander writes that a possible source for Dante's unexpected decision to put living people in the lowest circles of Hell is John 13:27, "where it is said that ... after Judas betrayed Jesus ... Satan entered Judas” (622). This has two important implications: that the body and the soul become disunited and that the body, possessed by forces other than the human soul, can continue "living." Fra Alberigo tells Dante that "as soon as any soul becomes a traitor, / as [he] was, then a demon takes its body / away— and keeps that body in his power / until its years have run their course completely" (33.129-132). In effect, this suggests that the act of betrayal acts like a death of the soul that leaves the body intact. The soul becomes separated from the body, and the human loses touch with themself to the extent that they do not know if they are alive or dead outside of the underworld. Dante asks Alberigo, “Are you already dead?”—interesting to note that he says "you" and not "your body,” as for the pilgrim the body and soul are still one (33.121). Alberigo replies, “I have no knowledge of / my body’s fate within the world above” (33.122-3). After this remark, Alberigo renews his pleas to remove the frozen tears from his eyes: “And that you may with much more willingness/ to scrape these glazed tears from off my face,” referring to the elements of his body in Hell—the face, the eyes, the tears (33.127-8). We can assume that there are two bodies of Fra Alberigo: one outside Hell, who knows nothing about its own death, and one inside, the core of Alberigo’s consciousness, which has completely lost connection with the worldly, bodily self. Dante later suggests that fulfilling Alberigo’s wish to have the frozen tears removed would do him a discourtesy—it is better for him to remain ignorant of the details of his situation. The soul, or, more specifically, the body-soul of the traitor, is blind with frozen grief, and the truth is unattainable to it.

The Human Self, Incorporated

A similar fracture of the self is at the center of the television show Severance (2022), written by Dan Erickson. The events take place in a fictionalized version of the 1990s: in addition to that which is familiar to us, this world also possesses certain futuristic technologies, such as implants that allow a severing a person's perception of the self as they cross a given spatial boundary. Most prominently featured in the film is the separation that the workers undergo upon their arrival at the office—as they take the elevator to the basement floor, they lose all access to their outside self with all the memories, life experiences, preferences, emotionally significant relationships, while retaining basic knowledge of life as such: for example, Helly R., the female protagonist, cannot remember her name or her mother, but she can remember that Delaware is a US state. The viewers only gain access to knowledge about Helly’s outside self when she does so. In contrast, the central male character, Marc S., is known to the viewer in both his incarnations, the inner and the outer, and the viewer undergoes alongside Marc a long process of attempting to reunify them.

As a fitting background for the vacuity of the self, the aesthetic of the show is that of austere minimalism, with long sequences of characters walking down endless white, maze-like corporate corridors that lead nowhere. Narrow rows of leafless trees outside and geometrically lined rows of identical cars parked in front of the corporation building reflect the frozen-time chronotope of Dante’s lower circles of Inferno. Sara Stewart comments on the show as “a dystopian workplace in which employees sign away all rights to their 9-to-5 brains” and concludes that the show is “the logical endpoint of the TV office family, and a surreally perfect complement to the current wave of resistance to resuming office life as usual,” arguing that the era of presenting office work as a place of meaningful work and relationships is replaced by a bleak and uncannily realistic depiction of absurdity and imprisonment. But more than imprisonment, work here is tantamount to death and the endlessness of Hell.

At the centre of the drama of meaningless work is the character of Marc S., initially a largely conforming figure, or at least one who has accepted reality as inevitable and is trying to make the best of it. Helly R., on the other hand, is the figure of resistance, who continually attempts to escape the imprisonment of the office. Together they present an insider-outsider duality, later complicated in the show, that resembles Dante’s Virgil-Dante pair. Helly’s attempts progress from rejected resignation notices to unsuccessful efforts to contact her outer self, repeatedly thwarted as no communication between the parts of the person is permitted. At the peak of her desperation, Helly attempts suicide, but even that does not force her outer self to liberate her. When Helly R. threatens to commit self-harm, she obtains a video message from her outer self which states, "I am a person, you are not,” which demonstrates the level of dehumanization of the inner, working, self by its outer counterpart, who gets to enjoy the fruits of the labour—in what effectively amounts to an extreme version of self-exploitation (Severance 4.24:20). There is a parallel to the “soulless” body of Alberigo, who is suffering in Hell, heavily ridden with frozen tears.

With that frozenness in view, the chronotope of Severance mirrors that of Dante’s lowest circles of Inferno in many ways. There are no external indicators of the progress of time or change of seasons. Everything seems to be frozen, metaphorically as well as literally, in a perpetual winter. The first episode sets the tone with even layers of snow, even rows of trees and an ideal sky that remains blue well into the evening when Marc S. returns from work. Even the time of day is unchanging in an unsettling way in the show's universe. Time and space exist outside the "normal" mobile and cyclical time-space continuum. In the dystopian world of Severance, everything exists at the same time; the continuity of time is troubled by the characters' existence only within certain frames of the day – once they get into the elevator in the evening to leave, they are immediately back, and now it is the morning. In the distorted time-space within the closed walls, the concept of death and of sleep as its counterpart do not make sense anymore. The character of the floor supervisor, who is not severed, states, "Things like death happen outside of here, not here. Life at Lumon is protected from such things" (2.19:30). Death, as the end of a cycle of life, only makes sense in the continuous time flow but not in the insulated perpetuity of the present.

This self-enclosed perpetuity is created as a consciousness. In the opening episode, Ms. Cobel, whose outside name is Mrs. Selvig, comments to Marc, "My mother was atheist, and she used to say, 'There is good news and bad news about Hell. The good news is that it's merely a product of morbid human imagination. The bad news is that what humans can imagine they can usually create'" (1.29:30-30:15). Cobel's comments refer back to Dante's metaphysical principle of primacy of Intellect, the Empyrean, where, as Moevs suggests, the Intellect is the source and holder of the time-space continuum of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise (4-5). This points to the idea that the oppression that humans are experiencing are not a result of some malevolent external force that exists to exploit and oppress others, but humans themselves are the oppressive “others,” or there are no “others,” it is all just us. In the final episode, it is revealed that Helly R. is Helena Eagan, the daughter of the CEO and heiress of the corporate empire, demonstrating that the oppressor and the oppressed are one and the same; there is nothing outside of the human consciousness that can be blamed for creating the present-day situation.

The show also gives a clue as to why Marc S., its central character, has chosen to live in this sterile environment. The grief after losing his partner, possibly combined with the guilt for her death (the show hints that Marc might have been driving the car when the accident that killed her took place), are unbearable enough for him to decide to interrupt the time flow for the sake of forgetting. Similarly to Dante’s sinners, “In Hell...the deeply rooted motivations, as well as the extreme actions, are revealed ... every choice appears in its barest, most essential truth, and is judged as such. Evil is without remedy, truce, or hope of relief; it has no other boundary than its everlasting present” (Pertile 77). Instead of choosing the difficult path of self- knowledge, the characters opt for the splitting of the self and the subsequent forgetfulness as a possible cure for an unbearable situation. In the enclosed space of the office, Marc's imprisoned self, having forgotten the cause of his imprisonment, nevertheless has to live out the relentless consequences of this forgetful state by embodying the inner reality of grief and guilt—meaningless wheel-spinning without respite, punishment without reason, the endlessness of a single moment that one wishes above all to end. Like Dante's sinners, in the absence of knowledge of the self, reality does not copy the underlying reason but embodies it as an allegorical as well as literal truth.

As well as being impeded from communicating with their outer selves, the imprisoned parts of the characters also have no access to outer reality in any form—the "severed floor" is situated underground and has no windows. Like Dante’s traitors, the workers are unable to see outside of their immediate enclosed space. The discovery Helly R. makes about being the person behind the system, the person who advocates for and upholds the oppression by which she herself is victimized, is the kind of knowledge that she can barely handle, except to try and “destroy the company” from within, which also implies destroying her own self and her future—in the inner as well as the outer incarnations. This is in parallel to Fra Alberigo, whom Dante deems it is courteous to leave his reality in the dark. In this way, the system is shown to be insoluble, symbolically shown without a window to the outside natural world of cycles and weather and change. The absurdity of office life that used to be represented as a source of good-hearted jokes in sitcoms such as The Office takes a menacing turn. The small "window" of laughter as a respite seems to have closed: Severance does elicit laughs, but they are of a darker kind. Michelle Dean writes that in older versions of office-based absurd comedies, "you have to laugh, sometimes, because you'd cry otherwise. That's the ray of hope, the laughing. The thing that keeps you going to work, and also helps you keep a critical consciousness about the whole enterprise." In Severance, however, the laughter is reduced and implied in the irony of the characters' situations rather than played in a loud background audio track. Laughter still remains, but it is also instrumentalized by the company—as well as dancing, play, and even the need to feel at home—as the company provides a cardboard version of a furnished house that employees can visit.

To underline this lack of a feasible alternative, the show depicts modern self-help culture as an inverted variation on office imprisonment. The outer Marc's brother-in-law is keen to adopt self-help ideas, which are just as absurd as inner Marc’s office reality. Moreover, this seemingly different reality is also devoid of nourishment, as the brother- in-law organizes a "dinner" without food, with only a single glass of water before every guest. "Life is not about food," states one of the guests (1.40:30). The gathering also proves to lack any semblance of empathy—it feeds Marc, a former history professor, with nothing but intrusive questions. Nevertheless, the brother-in-law’s book, titled The You You Are, acts as a catalyst for change for the inner Marc and his department. As Gilbert notes, “it becomes the Communist Manifesto for them” (00:18:27). The outer, educated Marc, with his blasé attitude, sees the absurdity of the premise, but the “clean-slate” inner Marc takes the book’s simplified and naïve message as a call to action. In this, the show departs from Dante’s vision of sinners, presenting a possibility of potential self-recognition but also undermining it as naïve and absurd.

As Moevs argues about Dante’s Commedia, the ultimate purpose of the journey is to become a newly integrated self. He states that “in the Comedy salvation is rather a self-awakening of the Real to itself in us, the surrender or sacrifice of what we take ourselves and the world to be, a changed experience that is one with a moral transformation” (Moevs 8). Similarly, the characters in Severance have to undergo a re-unification of their split selves. It is not enough to remain unsevered in the first place because the exploitative outer self of each person has lost its touch with the core innocent self that emerges inside the office—an analogue to Dante’s concept of the sinner’s soul. The outer selves are shown to be too altered by the external circumstances of life, such as education, money, or military past, to remain connected to their core being to the extent that, in the case of Helly R., the outer self is a complete opposite of the inner one. However, a hasty and thoughtless "reintegration" is shown to be fatal—Marc's former colleague dies from the side effects of trying to sew his two selves together surgically. The path to reintegration is incremental, and lies in solidarity and in seeing oneself reflected in others—Marc and his severed department create a kind of collective self that gradually gains enough power to venture outside the space of the office—they develop "collective eyes."

Of course, comparing a contemporary product of popular culture to a timeless literary masterpiece has its inherent limitations, namely, the contemporary piece ultimately only comments on a particular cultural point in time. Unlike Dante’s Commedia, Severance's social critique is only relevant to this historical period, marked by disappointment in the capitalist productive cycle and its side effects of exploitation and oppression, exacerbated to an absurd level by the corporate homogeneity of artificial "culture" and "mission." Nevertheless, this show seems to reiterate similar concerns and metaphysical principles as those conveyed by Dante. Returning to Moevs, who argues that “as Beatrice puts it in Paradiso 29: conceived in itself, the ultimate ontological principle is a splendore, the reflexive self-awareness of pure consciousness; creation is its re-reflection as an apparently self-subsistent entity, a limitation of its unqualified self-experience as something, as a determinate thing,” the principle of pure reintegrated consciousness seems to be at the heart of Severance, albeit with a rather simplified and straightforward depiction of the split self that is simultaneously itself and the other (5). The way forward remains the same: "This voluntary self-experience of self as ‘other’ is love; thus Dante can say that creation is an unfolding of divine love” (Moevs 5). In the Severance first season finale, as the characters finally emerge on the outside to "see the stars," the viewer is left with hope, a promised futurity of continuation, be it a gratifying or a disappointing one.

Works Cited

Bakhtin, MM. "Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel." The Dialogic

Imagination: Four Essays. Edited by Michael Holquist, University of Texas Press Slavic Series, 2006, pp. 83-289

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Inferno 1: Myth Meets History, Isaiah Meets Aristotle.”

Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2018.

--. “Inferno 32: Erotic Ice to Frozen Core.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New

--. “Inferno 33: The Wolf and the Zombie.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New

--. “Inferno 34: Satanic Physics and the Point of Transition.” Commento Baroliniano,

Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2018.

Dante Alighieri. Inferno. Translated by Robert Hollander, Jean Hollander. First Anchor

books ed., Anchor Books, 2002.

--. Inferno. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. Random House Publishing Group, 2004.

Dean, Michelle. ““The Office" and the American Workplace.” The Nation, 29 June 2015,

Gilbert, Sophie et al. “Why the Puzzle-Box Sci-Fi of Severance Works.” The Review


Mandelshtam, Osip. Journey to Armenia & Conversation About Dante. Translated by

Sidney Monas et al., Notting Hill Editions, 2012.

Merrill, James. "Divine Poem: Dante's Cosmic Web." The New Republic (pre-1988), vol.

183, no. 022, Nov 29, 1980, pp. 29-34.

Moevs, Christian. The Metaphysics of Dante’s Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University

Press. 2005.

Pertile, Lino. “Introduction to Inferno.” The Cambridge Companion to Dante, edited by

Rachel Jacoff, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 67–90.

Severance. Created by Dan Erickson, Red Hour Productions, Endeavor Content, 2022. Stewart, Sara. “Opinion: How We Went from "The Office" to "Severance".” CNN, Cable


Testa, Bart. “Dante and Cinema.” Dante, Cinema and Television. Toronto: University of

Toronto Press, 2003, pp. 189-212.

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