Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265. In 1309 he was banished from his birthplace for political reasons, and sentenced to death in his absence. From then on he led a wanderer's life in Verona and Tuscany, eventually settling in Ravenna where he was buried on his death in 1321. His most celebrated work is the DIVINA COMMEDIA which he began in 1307. It is his spiritual odyssey through Hell and Purgatory, guided by Virgil, and finally to Paradise, guided by Beatrice. It gives an encyclopaedic knowledge of the age, all expressed in the most exquisite poetry. The DIVINA COMMEDIA, which Dante began in Latin, established Italian as a literary language. Dante also completed other important canzoni or short poems, eclogues, and an unfinished work, DE VULGARI ELOQUENTIA, discussing the origin of the language, the divisions of language and the dialect of Italian in particular.
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History, literature, love, and religion come together in this graceful biography of the world's most revered and influential poet. R.W.B. Lewis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Edith Wharton, displays the same intelligent understanding here of the complex interplay of inner and outer forces that shape an artist. His lucid account of political and literary conflict in 13th-century Florence (subject of another Lewis book, The City of Florence) illuminates the context in which Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) came of age, fell in love with the unattainable Beatrice Portinari, forged the "sweet new style" that transformed Italian literature, and embroiled himself in factional disputes he would angrily renounce after his exile from Florence in 1302. Lewis makes palpable the intellectual and imaginative energy that fired Dante to write an influential political treatise (De Monarchia), a powerful argument for literature written in the common tongue (De Vulgari Eloquentia), and of course his twin tributes to Beatrice: one of the most eloquent love poems ever written (La Vita Nuova) and that supreme chronicle of the human spiritual quest, Divine Comedy. The author notes autobiographical elements in all Dante's works without trivializing their creative majesty, and if the poet's personality is somewhat muffled across the distance of eight centuries, his artistic presence still "sparkles and sings and smiles like one of the spirits in Paradise." Drawing cogently (and with generous acknowledgment) on previous scholarship, this volume worthily fulfills its mission as an entry in the excellent Penguin Lives series of short biographies for the general reader. --Wendy SmithAbout the Author:
R. W. B. Lewis is a professor in the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is the author of Edith Wharton, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and of the James family, among other books. He lives much of the year in Florence, and the rest in Bethany, Connecticut.
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Book Description Phoenix, London England, 2002. Soft Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. 1st Phoenix Edition. Paperback. According to John Ruskin, Dante was 'the central man of all the world', with a universal presence in literature matched only by Shakespeare. Pulitzer prize-winning biography R. W. B. Lewis charts Dante's life from his banishment and exile from his home town, Florence, to his careers as a solider and politician, using the poetry to illustrate his thinking and his relationships. We are shown in detail how Dante's personal experiences are woven into allegory to form his masterpiece, the Dinina Commedia; and how Beatrice Portinari, a young woman he met at the age of nine, comes in the Comedy 'clad with hue of living flame', the personification of Divine Wisdom. 210 pp. (We carry a wide selection of titles in The Arts, Theology, History, Politics, Social and Physical Sciences. academic and scholarly books and Modern First Editions ,and all types of Academic Literature.). Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 085828