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Dante in Love

For over half a millennium, The Divine Comedy has inspired writers from Shakespeare to Beckett. Dante's epic journey - out of the raging inferno to the gates of paradise - continues to dazzle readers today. Tennyson based his poem Ulysses on lines from the Inferno and Byron chastised an 'Ungrateful Florence' for exiling him. The Divine Comedy resonates across five hundred years of our literary canon. In Dante in Love, A N Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to comprehend the meaning of Dante's great poem. He explains how the Italian States were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. He explores Dante's preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology and the great Christian philosophers which inform every line of the Comedy. Dante in Love also lays bare the enigma of the man who never wrote about the mother of his children, yet immortalised the mysterious Beatrice, whom he barely knew. With a biographer's eye for detail and a novelist's comprehension of the creative process, A N Wilson paints a masterful portrait of Dante Alighieri and unlocks one of the seminal works of literature for a new generation of readers.
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For over half a millennium, The Comedy has inspired writers from Shakespeare to Beckett. Dante's epic journey - out of the raging inferno to the gates of paradise - continues to dazzle readers today. In Dante In Love, A N Wilson brings to life one of the western canon's most enigmatic figures.

About the Author

A N Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and awarding-winning biographer and celebrated novelist. His most recent novel, Winnie and Wolf, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He lives in North London.


Prolific culture critic and novelist Wilson (The Victorians) tackles one of the central literary and spiritual figures of Western civilization in this crowded and uneven study. As Wilson notes, for Anglo-American readers, Dante (1265-1321) remains something of an acquired taste; 30% of modern Italian comes from him, but his celebrated terza rima is difficult to render in English. His allegorical imagination is difficult to decode. His relationship to young Beatrice Portinari strikes us today as far too idealized. Despite these factors, Wilson's learned discourse does much to show Dante's relevance: how he fuses sacred and profane love; how his turbulent times featured new contact between the West and the Arab world; how the Courtly Love tradition, with ecstatic adultery as one of its ideals, is strikingly contemporary-sounding; how the high priests of modernism, Eliot and Pound, placed Dante at the center of their respective poetic universes. The title hints at but one aspect of Wilson's book. If this subject were adhered to with greater discipline, with less repetition and rambling, the book would be more accessible. 24 pages of color illus. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

British historian, novelist, and journalist Wilson (The Victorians) has cultivated a lifelong love of Dante and the Divine Comedy. This book is both the product of that love and an assessment of Dante's contribution to Western notions of love, placing him in biographical and historical context. Wilson desired, he writes, to offer the sort of book he wished he'd had to guide him through his own first bewildered encounters with the Commedia. He follows a broadly chronological organization, elaborating on the historical, philosophical, theological, and artistic as he goes, always referring to the Divine Comedy, using a variety of contemporary translations. Wilson works in the spirit of Dante scholars of previous eras such as Paget Toynbee and later Anglican humanists such as Dorothy Sayers, drawing on them for materials and interpretations. VERDICT While breaking no new ground, Wilson's scholarship is solid and accurate, the results engaging and fluent. This is a rich compendium for those familiar with Dante and a valuable introduction for those approaching him seriously for the first time.-T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"The most illuminating guide to Dante and his world I have read." --Sarah Bradford, author of "Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy" "The narrative is exceptionally lucid and the detail always vivid. This is biography as done by a novelist at the height of his powers." -- Jonathan Bate, "The Sunday Telegraph""" "If Dante gives us a universe, then Wilson provides a splendid survey of the world in which it was conceived . . . His criticism is generous, open-ended and patient." --Tom Payne, "The Telegraph""" "A thoughtful investigation . . . Wilson is an excellent 21st-century Virgil for anyone who has ever lost their way in Dante's dark wood, or who has yet to venture in." --Sarah Bakewell, "Sunday Times Magazine""" ""Dante in Love" is not just a thoroughly readable, illuminating story but, with its fascinating store of detail, a practical reference volume. It is a worthy vade mecum with which to explore Dante's masterpiece itself." -- Fiona Sampson, "The Independe

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