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"But already my desire and my will were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed, by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars." (Dante, The Divine Comedy)
One of the surest signs of fame is to be known solely by one's first name, with the mention of just that first name making clear who is being spoken of. So it is with Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), known simply as Dante thanks to the success of The Divine Comedy, one of the seminal works in Western literature. With Divine Comedy, Dante is often considered the master of contemporary Italian, as well as a forerunner of the Renaissance, which began to flourish in Florence around the same time. The Divine Comedy tells of Dante's journey through Hell (the Inferno), Purgatory, and Paradise, guided by famous poets including Virgil. Dante's epic discusses religion, philosophy, and a wide range of subject matter throughout his travels.
Dante took nearly 13 years to compose The Divine Comedy, all the while living in exile from his home city of Florence, and the work influenced just about every important writer any literary scholar can name, among them, Boccaccio (1313-75); Chaucer (circa 1344-1400); John Milton (1608-74); William Blake (1757-1827); Victor Hugo (1802-85); Joseph Conrad (Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski) (1857-1924); James Joyce (1882-1941); and Ezra Pound (1885-1972). One of the greatest poems in English, T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land", is in many ways derivative of Dante.
Dante Alighieri, especially when one considers his time and environment, was bold and fearless, following the calling and mission of the artist in the purest sense. He not only took his contemporaries to task in an enormous fashion, he also embraced the timeless challenges that metaphysical questions present. Dante had the nerve to force his listener to question life's toughest mysteries, and offer at least one possible blueprint for redemption. His mind, his language and his contributions to art, culture and intellect remain unsurpassed.
Everything You Need to Know About The Divine Comedy is a comprehensive guide that provides a synopsis, a description of the characters, and a summary and analysis of every chapter. You can use this as a guide while you listen, or as a way to brush up on everything you once knew and since forgot.