The infectious blend of accessibility, erudition and practical wisdom that characterized Rubin's previous The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women is abundantly present in her Dante in Love. Acting as our Virgil, Rubin follows Dante not only through the haunted realms of his Commedia but through the worldly circumstances and ideas that shaped it. Along the way we are given-in the form of brief but pungent digressions-deft thumbnail portraits of contemporaries like Guido Cavalcanti and Pope Boniface VIII as well as succinct explications of such crucial aspects of Dante's cosmology as Gothic architecture and the philosophy of Aquinas. One might single out Rubin's pages on the "memory theatre" and its role in medieval education as a model of insightful concision, but the book offers numerous other examples. That Rubin is able to interweave-without oversimplification-such occasionally arcane material into a compelling and fast-paced narrative speaks to an overall sense of great learning lightly worn and of a trust in the reader's intelligence not always evident in such popularizing accounts. Rubin's professional background in the world of business publishing (she founded the highly successful Doubleday Currency line) might have made her earlier meditation on the elegantly blunt insights of the early modern Machiavelli seem a more natural subject than the spiritual journey of the medieval Dante, but the book shows no signs of it. To say that she makes Dante's great poem "relevant" to the concerns of today might make her work seem like a crude exercise in empty uplift. Rather, she recognizes that the all-too-human pain of Dante's exile and slow progress toward authenticity produced a work whose hard-fought insights are more urgent than ever. Rubin quotes from a number of translations of the Commedia, most often and gratifyingly from the much-underrated rhyming version of John Ciardi. Agent, Glen Harley of Writer's Representatives. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In this assessment of The Divine Comedy, Rubin (The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women) reconstructs Dante's love for Beatrice and his years of travel and exile, while also examining the impact that current events had on his writing. She begins by explicating Inferno, frequently quoting from it while describing the state of Italy at the time of Dante's expulsion and tracing the intimate friendship between Dante and fellow poet Cavalcanti. Regarding Purgatorio, she extracts a message of hope, a chance to redeem oneself from bad habits and past mistakes; it is also a place where God is feminine, and the guide Virgil leaves his student to enter Paradiso alone. Rubin is well versed in Dante scholarship as evidenced in the introductory chapters and those on Inferno and she skillfully draws on various translations of the Comedy and an array of other academic works. Yet she could have organized her knowledge better; much of the text seems to flow from one idea to the next without articulate transition. Recommended for academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03; Rubin is founder of the Doubleday Currency imprint. Ed.] Jaime Anderson, Cty. of Henrico P.L., VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A pleasant, informative journey toward perfect love with Dante (and Virgil and Beatrice) through Italy, France, hell, purgatory, and heaven. Rubin, who has ventured previously into Italian history (The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women, 1997, etc.), this time moves into the Middle Ages and offers an almost ecstatic exegesis of The Divine Comedy, with breezy commentary on all three of its canticles. The author has a lot on her plate: she follows Dante around Italy (and into France and back again) as he is composing the poem; she sketches the cultural and religious history of the age; she explains both the structure and the significance of the Comedy; she shows how it has influenced other writers and how it resonates in contemporary life. And so throughout the text we find allusions to great Dante scholars and teachers (e.g., John Freccero at NYU), samples of translations from Ciardi, Mandelbaum, Pinsky, Merwin, Wicksteed, and even a quick taste of the Binyon-Pound collaboration. Rubin sprinkles her text as well with references to Harry Potter and Pudd'n'head Wilson, Freud and Fellini, People magazine and Matthew Pearl (and Longfellow!), Keats and Eliot, Joyce and Titian, Nijinsky and Jung. She includes details we won't forget (Tuscan paper comprised old underwear, animal parts, hemp), a few hackneyed images (a butterfly emerging from a cocoon), and some anecdotes that aren't quite accurate (the story of Shelley's drowning and cremation and of Trelawny's snatching from the fire the poet's unconsumed heart). Still, there are some eye-openers here for general readers and those unfamiliar with the poem. Rubin's summary of the theory that Dante's views of Gothic cathedrals in France inspired thearchitecture of the Comedy, her emphasis on the importance of memory in medieval societies, her unfettered enthusiasm for the poem-these are real attractions. As, for the most part, is her felicitous prose. In the poem, Dante finds Love; in Rubin, a grateful lover. Agent: Glen Hartley/Writers' Representatives
"Rubin's ardor for her subject can be contagious....Her book will certainly inspire countless readers to embark on the revelatory, life-changing journey of reading The Divine Comedy."
Los Angeles Times
"A thoughtful and enlightening analysis of the writing of The Divine Comedy that centers on the physical and spiritual journey of its author, Dante Alighieri."
"An infectious blend of accessibility, erudition, and practical wisdom."
"Rubin's enthusiasm for her subject is contagious...a drier intellect might not have written about what, in fact, is the world's greatest poem with a pleasure so infectious that readers will want immediately to read it."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Almost a primer on how to find inspiration and motivation from Dante...It is sprinkled with compelling 'Dantean journeys,' anecdotes of poets and other figures from history who have turned to Dante in times of crisis and inspiration...an excellent meditation on Dante."
Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club