The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Divine Comedy

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Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has, despite its enormous popularity and importance, often stymied readers with its multitudinous characters, references, and themes. But until the publication in 2007 of Guy Raffa’s guide to the Inferno, students lacked a suitable resource to help them navigate Dante’s underworld. With this new guide to the entire Divine Comedy, Raffa provides readers—experts in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Dante neophytes, and everyone in between—with a map of the entire poem, from the lowest circle of Hell to the highest sphere of Paradise.

Based on Raffa’s original research and his many years of teaching the poem to undergraduates, The CompleteDanteworlds charts a simultaneously geographical and textual journey, canto by canto, region by region, adhering closely to the path taken by Dante himself through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. This invaluable reference also features study questions, illustrations of the realms, and regional summaries. Interpreting Dante’s poem and his sources, Raffa fashions detailed entries on each character encountered as well as on many significant historical, religious, and cultural allusions.

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Editorial Reviews

Medium Aevum

"This useful study guide, aimed at the student or non-specialist reader, provides a detailed canto-by-canto summary of the Divine Comedy, together with explanations of the many literary, mythological, historical, and political allusions throughout the poem."
Peter Bondanella

“In no sense is this just another Cliffs Notes approach to Dante. In my view, this guide to Dante’s poetry is clearly the very best single book available for any student or interested general reader. The commentary and structure of the guide constitute a very impressive work of scholarship in that it admirably fulfills its goal of presenting Dante’s poem in all of its complexity without reductionism. Raffa has managed to hit exactly the right balance between providing information to readers and challenging them to use sources and Dante scholarship to come to grips with the meaning of the poem.”
Christopher Kleinhenz

Danteworlds—the book and the website—makes the Comedy’s universal message accessible and meaningful to all readers. In his superbly written and always engaging presentation of the three realms of the afterlife Guy Raffa displays the rare ability to see, as it were, both the forest and the trees, capturing the grand outlines and shape of Dante’s poem as well as identifying and providing incisive commentary on its myriad components—people, places, events, themes. Not only will first-time readers of the Comedy appreciate Raffa’s meticulous overview, but seasoned scholars will also profit from his many critical insights. Danteworlds will have a major impact on the ways we read, teach, and study the Comedy.”
Forum Italicum

 “Raffa’s volume, whose apt title captures the panoramic nature of his enterprise, makes comprehensible the nexus between the topographical journey undertaken by the poem’s protagonist. . . . At the same time, Raffa does not ignore the poet’s sources, and the overview of precursorial visions of the afterlife provided at the commencement of the volume help to elucidate the original features of the Comedy’s conceptual framework. . . . Under the author’s skillful guidance, the world of Dante’s creative output is lucidly explored and engagingly presented.”
Medium Aevum
"This useful study guide, aimed at the student or non-specialist reader, provides a detailed canto-by-canto summary of the Divine Comedy, together with explanations of the many literary, mythological, historical, and political allusions throughout the poem."-Medium Aevum
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226702698
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2009
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy P. Raffa is associate professor of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Danteworlds: A Reader’s Guide to the Inferno, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Welcome to Danteworlds

Major Events in Dante’s Life  

Map of Italy in the Thirteenth Century Hell
Illustration of Dante’s Hell      

Dark Wood

Periphery of Hell: Cowardice 

Circle 1: Limbo

Circle 2: Lust 

Circle 3: Gluttony 

Circle 4: Avarice and Prodigality  

Circle 5: Wrath and Sullenness 

Circle 6: Heresy

Circle 7: Violence

Circle 8, pouches 1-6: Fraud 

Circle 8, pouches 7-10: Fraud 

Circle 9: Treachery 

Changing Values?


Illustration of Dante’s Purgatory      

Ante-Purgatory: Late Repentant 

Valley of Rulers 

Terrace 1: Pride 

Terrace 2: Envy   

Terrace 3: Wrath 

Terrace 4: Sloth 

Terrace 5: Avarice and Prodigality 

Terrace 6: Gluttony 

Terrace 7: Lust  

Terrestrial Paradise  

Dante Today 


Illustration of Dante’s Paradise  

Moon: Vow-Breakers

Mercury: Fame-Seekers

Venus: Ardent Lovers 

Sun: Wise Spirits  

Mars: Holy Warriors 

Jupiter: Just Rulers 

Saturn: Contemplatives 

Fixed Stars: Church Triumphant

Primum Mobile: Angelic Orders  

Empyrean: Blessed, Angels, Holy Trinity

Dante and Interdisciplinarity                                                                         


Note on Texts and Translations



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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2012

    what I didn't know in high school

    this book opened up a new world to me...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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