Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dante in Context

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dante in Context

Article excerpt

Dante in Context, ed. Zygmunt G. Barański and Lino Pertile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). xxv + 571 pp. ISBN 978-107-03314-6. $130.00.

At nearly 600 pages Dante in Context covers a wider breadth of topics and it goes into greater depth than most comparable volumes. In fact, no other introduction to Dante pays so much attention to the intellectual and cultural historical circumstances of the poet's works and life, despite the wealth of scholarship that is available on Dante's times.

The volume comprises five parts, dealing broadly with politics, philosophy, language and literature, the arts, and, finally, with Dante's life, works, and reception. It would be unfair to illustrate the quality of the scholarship in this volume by singling out individual chapters, or naming a few contributors. Suffice it to say that collectively the authors, editors included, form a truly impressive group of scholars, whose expertise spans vast expanses of the medieval world. Their work for this volume includes chapters on medieval economy, law and justice, moral and natural philosophy, medicine, cosmology and religion (divided in two chapters on orthodoxy and dissidence), daily life, popular culture, and gender. Literature and linguistics take the lion's share in the central part of the volume, which examines issues such as vernacular languages and literature, the Classical heritage, religious and political writings, visions of the afterlife, and travel literature. The reader is encouraged to explore both at length and with ease Dante's world and its intricacies through chapters that are introductory and sufficiently concise (the longest is just over twenty pages), but do not shy away from depth, complexities, and engagement with the primary sources and the recent critical debate. …

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