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Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity

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Overview

The best and most eloquent introduction to Dante for our time.
Prue Shaw is one of the world's foremost authorities on Dante. Written with the general reader in mind, Reading Dante brings her knowledge to bear in an accessible yet expert introduction to his great poem.
This is far more than an exegesis of Dante?s three-part Commedia. Shaw communicates the imaginative power, the linguistic skill and the emotional intensity of Dante?s poetry?the ...

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Overview

The best and most eloquent introduction to Dante for our time.
Prue Shaw is one of the world's foremost authorities on Dante. Written with the general reader in mind, Reading Dante brings her knowledge to bear in an accessible yet expert introduction to his great poem.
This is far more than an exegesis of Dante’s three-part Commedia. Shaw communicates the imaginative power, the linguistic skill and the emotional intensity of Dante’s poetry—the qualities that make the Commedia perhaps the greatest literary work of all time and not simply a medieval treatise on morality and religion.The book provides a graphic account of the complicated geography of Dante's version of the afterlife and a sure guide to thirteenth-century Florence and the people and places that influenced him. At the same time it offers a literary experience that lifts the reader into the universal realms of poetry and mythology, creating links not only to the classical world of Virgil and Ovid but also to modern art and poetry, the world of T. S. Eliot, Seamus Heaney and many others.Dante's questions are our questions: What is it to be a human being? How should we judge human behavior? What matters in life and in death? Reading Dante helps the reader to understand Dante’s answers to these timeless questions and to see how surprisingly close they sometimes are to modern answers.Reading Dante is an astonishingly lyrical work that will appeal to both those who’ve never read the Commedia and those who have. It underscores Dante's belief that poetry can change human lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Adam Gopnik
“For all of us who have put off a trip into Dante’s great poem for fear of getting lost there for good,Prue Shaw's intricate, humane, lucid and precise guide into Dante's world and time at last provides the longed-for map. One might even say thatDante's readers now have a Virgil of their own.”
Giulio Lepschy
“Splendid and enlightening. There couldn't be a better introduction to the language of Dante's poem for English-speaking readers.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-07
Dante expert Shaw (Emeritus, Italian Studies/Univ. Coll. London; editor: Dante: Monarchy, 1996) explains The Divine Comedy so easily and simply, she eliminates all trepidation in anyone daunted by his masterpiece, "the greatest poem of the Middle Ages and perhaps the greatest single work of Western literature." To understand Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) the pilgrim, you must first understand Dante the poet. Originally a politician, Dante was exiled from his native Florence in 1302, an event that brought his poetry to maturity. The Divine Comedy was not a theological work but rather a poem by a man exploring his personal and cultural memories on a journey of life. As the author sings the praises of Dante, readers will come to understand the genius of his work. The first vernacular work in the Florentine dialect, Dante's 100 cantos, more than 14,000 lines of poetry, are in a rhyme scheme of his own invention called terza rima--a series of three line tercets, with the end word of the second line in one tercet supplying the rhyme for the first and third line of the next. It not only generates the next tercet; it makes the poem absolutely tamper-proof. Shaw exposes the profound depth and art of poetry that encompasses so much more than language and rhythm. Dante avoided writing in Latin, as was the custom, in order to appeal to the masses. He did use a little Latin, however, and also invented words in the new and entirely flexible Italian to fit into his rhyme scheme. Shaw also includes a helpful glossary, timeline and an "excursus on metre." Read this book to discover Dante the man, the pilgrim and the poet. Then go read his greatest poem. He's well-worth the exploration, and Shaw is a Virgil-like guide.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871407429
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 2/10/2014
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 205,237
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Prue Shaw is emeritus reader in Italian studies at University College London and the editor of the edizione nazionale of Dante’s Monarchia and of a digital edition of the Commedia. She lives in Cambridge, England.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    *I won this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway. In no w

    *I won this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway. In no way has this influenced my rating or opinion of this book. Thank you to Goodreads and to Prue Shaw for the opportunity.*




    Let me start by saying that I have never been a HUGE lover of poetry. Now you may ask yourself "why did I enter to win this book then?" That would be because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I am glad I did. I truly believe that the reason for my lack of joy regarding poetry has been because I have not understood it. Prue Shaw not only explained Dante's poetry in a way that I could understand, she also added in a lot of rich history behind it to make it more understandable. I am a huge lover of history, so this helped to bridge the gap for me and brought me into the realm of poetry gently. I also appreciated her quotes in Italian and then the translation into English. This helped me to see the beauty to not only the poetry, but the language as well. It was quite obvious that Prue Shaw really knows not only her poetry, but Dante in particular. I have to admit, this was a REALLY slow read for me. Only because I wanted to make sure I was understanding what I was reading. This was a little above my education level. But once I slowed down, I was able to absorb the knowledge and understand it as well. I will be holding on to this book and re-reading it down the road. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves history or poetry or both!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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