Friday, May 06, 2016

14th c. politics in new Dante bio

A new biography of Dante explores what it would be like for a man in exile, under sentence of death, to have the concentration to write one of the greatest long poems ever made amid the stresses and dangers of 14th century existence:
Santagata paints a dramatically different scene. We see a man with no fixed income, worried about that death sentence, dependent on the generosity of patrons who themselves are caught up in political turmoil. Dante is shown first scheming with White comrades to regain Florence, then currying favour with Black factions to be forgiven and allowed home, then switching allegiances to become a fervent Ghibelline. It is amazing he was able to concentrate enough to a write a sonnet, let alone the 14,233 lines of the Comedy.

The book, released in April, is Dante: The Story of His Life by Marco Santagata. Thanks to Peter D'Epiro for pointing us to Simon West's book review in the Australian.

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