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Erich Auerbach’s Dante: Poet of the Secular World is an inspiring introduction to one of world’s greatest poets as well as a brilliantly argued and still provocative essay in the history of ideas. Here Auerbach, thought by many to be the greatest of twentieth-century scholar-critics, makes the seemingly paradoxical claim that it is in the poetry of Dante, supreme among religious poets, and above all in the stanzas of his Divine Comedy, that the secular world of the modern novel ﬁrst took imaginative form. Auerbach’s study of Dante, a precursor and necessary complement to Mimesis, his magisterial overview of realism in Western literature, illuminates both the overall structure and the individual detail of Dante’s work, showing it to be an extraordinary synthesis of the sensuous and the conceptual, the particular and the universal, that redeﬁned notions of human character and fate and opened the way into modernity.
I. Historical Introduction; The Idea of Man in Literature
II. Dante's Early Poetry
III. The Subject of the "Comedy"
IV. The Structure of the "Comedy"
V. The Presentation
VI. The Survival and Transformation of Dante's Vision of Reality
About the Author
Erich Auerbach (1892—1957) was born in Berlin, educated at the Universities of Heidelberg and Greifswald, and served in the German army during World War I. A professor at the University of Marburg, Auerbach fled Hitler’s Germany for Istanbul in 1933 and in 1947 moved to the United States, where he taught at Pennsylvania State and Yale.
Michael Dirda is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He has been an editor and writer for The Washington Post Book World for the past twenty years. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Ralph Manheim (1907—1992) translated Günter Grass, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Hermann Hesse, and Martin Heidegger, along with many other German and French authors. The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation is a major lifetime achievement award named in his honor.