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Dante stands as the first modern author. That said, the medieval conception of author differs from our own modern-day understanding of the word. Throughout his works, Dante was deeply concerned with defining the nature of authorship and the role of his own authority as a cultural operator, especially with regard to the "authority" of the poet on matters political and theological. Here, Ascoli (Italian studies, Univ. of California, Berkeley), who has authored numerous books and articles on Dante, Machiavelli, and Ariosto, offers a magisterial treatment of Dante's evolving conception of author. He historicizes and contextualizes the term while tracing Dante's active redefinition of it. Ascoli pays special attention to Dante's earlier works and their anticipation of his seminal The Divine Comedy. Thoroughly grounded in the primary and secondary literature, Ascoli's text is accessible even to the interested nonspecialist. An important contribution to Dante studies; highly recommended for all academic libraries.