A brief literary biography like this should leave the listener with an impression of a writer's major work and some understanding of how his life informed that work. This short work doesn't leave much of an impression. Despite an unimpeachable narration by British actor John Shrapnel, the recording bogs down in its descriptions of the politics and history of medieval Italy. This, of course, is the groundwork upon which The Divine Comedy was written, but a short work like this is unable to provide any real synthesis, and the result is a contextual litany of names and dates.
Dante's vision, The Divine Comedy, has profoundly affected every generation since it first appeared in the early 14th century. Here is a brief account of his life, compiled from various sources (including his first biographer, Boccaccio) by Benedict Flynn, whose new translation of the Comedy has been widely acclaimed. It sets the known facts of Dante's life against the turmoil of the times, and puts the very personal nature of his poetry into perspective.
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This is a very quick study of Dante's life. It is well written and narrated, but I got a little lost in the foreign names and events since my knowledge of Italian history is limited. I enjoyed the story, however, and it did introduce me to Dante and 13th century Italian history.
Benedict Flynn describes in his short story the life of Dante Alighieri - the Italian poet of Dark Ages. The book reveals the dark side of the life of Dante - his conflicts with Florentines, his banishment from beloved city of Florentine, his passion for Guelphs and their struggles with Ghibellins. For those who do not know - Guelphs were papacy supporters against Ghibellins - the Roman Emperors supporters. Later - the movement divided into two factions Black and White Guelphs, and Dante was unfortunate to be White, while Black were in power, the power that, among other things was used to expel Dante for life long exile in Verona and finally in Ravenna.
The short book suggests that these misfortunes in Dante life, were actually the breeding ground for Dante's "Divine Comedy".
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