For all that has been written about the author of the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) remains the best guide to his own life and work. Dante’s writings are therefore never far away in this authoritative and comprehensive intellectual biography, which offers a fresh account of the medieval Florentine poet’s life and thought before and after his exile in 1302.
Beginning with the often violent circumstances of Dante’s life, the book examines his successive works as testimony to the course of his passionate humanity: his lyric poetry through to the Vita nova as the great work of his first period; the Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia and the poems of his early years in exile; and the Monarchia and the Commedia as the product of his maturity. Describing as it does a journey of the mind, the book confirms the nature of Dante’s undertaking as an exploration of what he himself speaks of as “maturity in the flame of love.”
The result is an original synthesis of Dante’s life and work.
John Took is Professor Emeritus of Dante Studies at University College London. His books include L'Etterno Piacer: Aesthetic Ideas in Dante and Dante, Lyric Poet and Philosopher: An Introduction to the Minor Works.
"Took captures passionately and in meticulous detail the intellectual journeying Dante took in becoming one of the great portrait artists of the human condition. . . . This is a love letter magisterially crafted, eloquently rendered."—Rachel Moss, Times Higher Education
"Powerful new readings."—Peter Hainsworth, Times Literary Supplement
"Dante is an altogether authoritative and mighty intellectual biography – superlative in its writing and more than comprehensive in breadth of scope."—David Marx, David Marx Book Reviews
"John Took offers a splendidly comprehensive and well-informed account of Dante's work. Full weight is given to the ways in which the poet's writings reflect and respond to historical context. But above all the poetry itself is seen, rightly and enthusiastically, as a 'coruscation of delight.' "—Robin Kirkpatrick, University of Cambridge
"A magisterial work, the result of a lifetime's devoted engagement with Dante's work and all that went into making the man and the poetry."—Corinna Salvadori Lonergan, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College, Dublin
"A beautiful book that reflects decades of thinking and teaching on Dante. Readers will not be disappointed by Took's incisive, comprehensive readings of the Divine Comedy and other works."—Piero Boitani, Sapienza University of Rome