Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Another way to be introduced to Dante

We've spent a month with a couple of chapters from Eric Auerbach's Mimesis; let's hope it's been beneficial both as an objective example of close reading, and as a provocative, if complex, examination of significant elements of Dante's poetics. Alas, the last we saw of Auerbach, he was darkly pointing toward the eclipse of God -- an enigmatic pronouncement that we more or less agreed we don't know enough to understand.

For those who might be interested, Auerbach's earlier book, Dante: Poet of the Secular World is readily available and perhaps more accessible as an introduction to the poet. It's a fluent work that holds a larger historical framework in view even as it offers fresh insights in prose that is never dull. While it contains close readings, it also covers large swaths of cultural movement, and offers superb, almost portrait-like impressions of the early medieval allegorists, the courtly love poets of Provence and the Stilnovisti of Italy, among much more.

For what it's worth, I can't think of any better introduction to the voice, the work, and the scope of Dante Alighieri than Auerbach's Dante.

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