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Even though I am not sure of what I want to write about Dante in Love by A. N. Wilson, many writers have had no trouble producing over eight thousand entries under Dante in the British Library.  Wilson adds one more, perhaps a useful one.

For decades I have mildly chided myself for not going beyond one feeble undergraduate attempt to read the Divine Comedy.  After nibbling an hors d’oeuvre here and there in Wilson, I am satisfied to live without making the sacrifice in time and effort to read the old boy directly.

If you are not steeped in background, but still have an interest to learn more about Dante as preparation for starting in on the Divine Comedy, or as a substitute for entering Hell, then this is just the book for you.  You will learn the little that is known about Dante as a person, and the sad state of political affairs in the Italy of his time, and the corrupt involvement of the church in all things that were none of its true mission.  You will learn how Dante treated friends, family, and foes.  There certainly appears to be a lot one can learn from Dante’s writing.

Reading Wilson it is easy to believe he has done his research and given you the clearest possible entry into Dante, but an objective scholar he is not.  He is a giddy cheerleader with large, double pom-poms.  If you like watching cheerleaders, you will not miss his lack of objectivity.

The book has a lively collection of colored illustrations of Dante and the Divine Comedy.  Charles Marlin

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