Diana Glenn reviews 'Dante: The story of his life' by Marco Santagata

Diana Glenn reviews 'Dante: The story of his life' by Marco Santagata

DANTE: THE STORY OF HIS LIFE

by Marco Santagata, translated by Richard Dixon

Harvard University Press (Footprint) $77 hb, 494 pp, 9780674504868

This sumptuous volume by Marco Santagata, professor of Italian Literature at the University of Pisa, offers the reader a richly documented and often gripping account of the development, peregrinations, and shifting fortunes of the celebrated poet Durante (Dante) Alighieri. Comprising ten chapters, the volume has an internal division in two parts, with the first covering Dante's life in Florence and the second exploring the remaining period of Dante's political exile (under pain of death if he re-entered Florence) and the poet's activity until his untimely death in Ravenna in 1321. By means of Richard Dixon's fluid and sparkling translation of the original volume (published in 2012 as Dante: Il romanzo della sua vita), English-speaking readers can enjoy Santagata's evocation of the tensions, complex alliances, betrayals, class struggles, and internecine strife taking place not only in a 'divided' Florence (la città partita, Inf. VI, 61) and elsewhere throughout the peninsula, but also in the violent and treacherous landscape of imperial and ecclesiastical allegiances beyond Italian borders, with all parties vying for dominion and bent on the wholesale destruction of their mutual enemies.

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Published in May 2016, no. 381
Diana Glenn

Diana Glenn

Diana Glenn is Dean of the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at Flinders University. She is the author of Dante’s Reforming Mission and Women in the Comedy (2008) and has published numerous scholarly articles nationally and internationally. She has jointly edited the following volumes: Dante Colloquia in Australia 1982–1999 (2000); Flinders Dante Conferences 2002 & 2004 (2005); Imagining Home: Migrants and the search for a new belonging (2011); The Shadow of the Precursor (2012); and (with John Kinder) ‘Legato con amore in un volume’: Essays in Honour of John A. Scott (Olschki, 2013).