Life of Dante Alighieri

Life of Dante Alighieri

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Life of Dante Alighieri

Life of Dante Alighieri

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Excerpt

Before the Great War the growing interest in Dante was notable. James Bryce, in his Lowell Institute lectures, referred to it as "the literary phenomenon of England and America." Groups of eager students of the great Florentine were appearing in the most unexpected places. To meet the demands of this increasing number of Dante lovers the publishers of the present volume suggested to me, some ten years ago, the writing of a popular biography of the poet. I was reluctant to undertake the task, for very meagre information of the events of Dante's life has drifted down the intervening centuries. Fitly to commemorate the six hundredth anniversary of the poet's birth the libraries of Italy were ransacked for all possible data. Little of the first importance has been discovered since, and probably the future will yield few significant facts. "Great geniuses," says Emerson, "have shortest biographies . . . the Genius draws up the ladder after him, when the creative age goes up to heaven, and gives way to a new age, which sees the works and asks in vain for the history." And then who could make the little knowledge we possess "popular"! One is reminded of another publisher's alleged request for a Life of Christ, short and snappy."

Two considerations, however, had sufficient weight to overcome my reluctance. First, no exhaustive "Life".

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