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Posted June 7, 2013
To put it simply: this book is a must-read for anyone who claims any interest in literature, codes and symbolism, Dante, Dan Brown, the hero’s journey, spirituality, or the human condition. Students, writers, literature buffs, amateur sleuths, critics, doubters, seekers, professors and readers: you’ll both enjoy and learn from Gary Jansen as he examines Dante and Dan Brown’s INFERNO with an insightful and humorous approach that leaves you wanting more.
This book reads like a conversation. Jansen’s writing is breezy without losing its authority. I imagine him an off duty professor, entertaining a pub full of all kinds of people with his dry wit and keen insights. You’re so engrossed in his tale–and busy keeping a sharp ear out for his next sly joke–that you don’t even realize how much you’re learning in the process. Before you know it, your pint is empty and you’re itching to get your hands on a copy of both Dante and Brown’s INFERNO.
I am not a lover of classic literature, despite my degree in English and my career as a reader and writer. I find a lot of writings on classic works to be a bit stuffy for my taste, and the classic writings themselves to be too dense for my busy schedule. (Don’t judge! How many people really pick up War and Peace for, as Hermione would say, a bit of light reading?) Jansen’s examination of Dante, while not nearly as in-depth as I suspect he’s capable and eager to get into, is illuminating. It actually makes me want to read Dante. In fact, that may be my next B&N purchase.
Jansen is also a fresh voice in regards to Dan Brown. I haven’t read an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on Brown’s most recent novel, and I suspect he’s become one of those authors we all love to pick apart. But let’s face it: he’s laughing all the way to the bank. And more than that, he’s still writing books that sell by the boatload. It is refreshing to read someone who pays respect to Brown without pandering or flattery, and who takes the time and energy to truly engage with Brown’s work. Jansen’s book is exactly what writers should be doing for each other: it takes the other’s work seriously, treats it with respect, and engages in an animated and intellectual way. Bravo, Mr. Jansen.
For $2.99, this book is a steal. Buy two… One in honor of each Inferno. And get ready for the most delightful trip to hell yet.
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