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This is the latest offering in Facts On File's "Critical Companion" series on the lives and works of major authors, aimed at high school students, undergraduates, and general readers. Medieval scholar Ruud (Univ. of Central Arkansas) has done an admirable job of distilling the voluminous scholarship of Dante studies into a tightly organized work that makes Dante's writing both accessible and compelling to students. Using the standard format for this series, he begins with a 15-page biography that describes Dante's life and world, followed by a synopsis and commentary on each canto, book, epistle, etc. About two-thirds of this section is devoted to The Divine Comedy alone. The third section is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of related entries covering people, events, places, and movements that influenced Dante's works, as well as real and mythological characters who appear in the Comedy.