Dante in Love

AN Wilson

Dante in Love

In Dante in Love, A N Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to comprehend the meaning of Dante's great poem. He explains how the Italian States were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. He explores Dante's preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology and the great Christian philosophers which inform every line of the Comedy. Dante in Love also lays bare the enigma of the man who never wrote about the mother of his children, yet immortalized the mysterious Beatrice, whom he barely knew. 3.5 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Dante in Love

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Literary Studies & Criticism, Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 400
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication June 2011
ISBN 978-1848879485
Publisher Atlantic
 

In Dante in Love, A N Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to comprehend the meaning of Dante's great poem. He explains how the Italian States were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. He explores Dante's preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology and the great Christian philosophers which inform every line of the Comedy. Dante in Love also lays bare the enigma of the man who never wrote about the mother of his children, yet immortalized the mysterious Beatrice, whom he barely knew.

"Dante, a poet for all seasons" A.N. Wilson | New Statesman (9/6/11)

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Tom Payne

If Dante gives us a universe, then Wilson provides a splendid survey of the world in which it was conceived. His digressions are almost all illuminating; his criticism is generous, open-ended and patient. His chapters on exile, art and on autobiography are excellent essays in themselves.

03/06/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Jonathan Bate

This is biography as done by a novelist at the height of his powers … Academic reviews will doubtless find dozens [of small mistakes]. But AN Wilson can afford to ignore them: he has written a loving book that is worthy of the divine poet of love.

06/06/2011

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

He writes with wit, clarity, affection and erudition lightly worn. His hopes for a Dante revival are invested in this beguiling and persuasive beginning.

11/06/2011

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The Sunday Times

Sarah Bakewell

He believes that the modern reader can never understand the poem by approaching it as a work of mere fiction, a kind of versified fantasy novel. We must learn to half-medievalise ourselves: Paradise, in particular, “only really works if you allow yourself to be taken by Dante’s hand and believe that it is in some senses actually happening”. Dante in Love makes this seem almost possible, and Wilson is an excellent 21st-century Virgil for anyone who has ever lost their way in Dante’s dark wood, or who has yet to venture in.

12/06/2011

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The Independent

Fiona Sampson

Dante in Love is not just a thoroughly readable, illuminating story but, with its fascinating store of detail, a practical reference volume. It is a worthy vade mecum with which to explore Dante's masterpiece itself.

24/06/2011

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The Literary Review

Robert Gordon

He guides us with the verve and vision of an able storyteller, steeped in the Christian tradition, and an amateur's engagement with the vast field of Dante commentary and scholarship … If there is a weakness to the book, it lies in the rather antique, almost Victorian air of some of its intellectual hinterland.

01/06/2011

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The Spectator

Philip Hensher

On the whole, this is a reliable and learned guide to Dante, full of love and years of study. It lacks, however, Wilson’s best and most characteristic quality as a writer: a fundamental irreverence.

04/06/2011

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The Financial Times

Robin Kirkpatrick

… accurate, lively, sometimes polemical and always delicately devout … The virtue of Dante in Love is that it readjusts certain misapprehensions and also remedies a culturally disastrous commonplace. Evil, one is told with tedious frequency, is more interesting than goodness — so read Dante’s Inferno, but not a page beyond! Yet, as anyone following the Inferno to its end will see, evil is itself finally tedious, mechanical and banal.

24/06/2011

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The Evening Standard

Ian Thomson

Some readers may bridle at Wilson's chatty expositions. Moreover, the reflections on Mahatma Gandhi, Marcel Proust, Sigmund Freud and PG Wodehouse sit awkwardly alongside those on Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine. Still, European literature begins and ends with Dante; with agreeable enthusiasm, Wilson explains why he remains the patriarch of modern letters.

06/06/2011

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The Guardian

Andrew Motion

Because Wilson loves the poet's writing and is fascinated by his ideas, the book always feels committed to its subject, driven by a powerful appetite to cover every possible angle of interpretation, every reference, every relevant historical context. For the same reasons, it also feels labyrinthine, liable to choke at any moment on the amount of information it tries to digest, and (rare for Wilson) balanced precariously on the edge of dullness.

17/06/2011

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The Observer

Peter Conrad

… this is less a book about Dante in love than an excuse for AN Wilson to vent his own ideological hatreds … the cosmological map elaborated by Dante in The Divine Comedy serves as a model for Wilson's fuddy-duddy project to re-medievalise the world.

17/07/2011

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