"It is arguably the best, if not the easiest, short introduction to Dante and his artistry." Michael Dirda, from the Introduction
“Auerbach offers the thought that for all its investment in the eternal and immutable, the Divine Comedy is even more successful in representing reality as basically human…The refinement of Auerbach’s own writing about Dante is truly exhilarating to read, not just because of his complex, paradox-filled insights, but because of their Nietzschean audacity.” —Edward Said
A precursor and companion to Erich Auerbach’s majestic Mimesis, Dante: Poet of the Secular World is both a comprehensive introduction to the work of one of the greatest poets and a brilliantly provocative and stimulating essay in the history of ideas. Here Auerbach, acclaimed by writers and scholars as various as Terry Eagleton, Guy Davenport, and Alfred Kazin as one of the greatest critics of the twentieth century, argues paradoxically but powerfully that it is to Dante, supreme among Christian poets, that we owe the concept of the secular world. Dante’s poetry, Auerbach shows, offers an extraordinary synthesis of the sensuous and the conceptual, and individual and the universal, that redefined notions of human character and fate and opened the way into modernity.
“This is a book with all the freshness and excitement of a new discovery. The account of Dante’s poetry possesses a validity which no other book, past and present, can diminish.” —Theodore Silverstein, University of Chicago