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The Dante Encyclopedia


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Table of Contents

Over 100 alphabetically arranged entries from 144 scholars on characters, places and proper names in Dante's works and items from his life, many including extensive bibliographies

About the Author

Richard Lansing is chair of Italian Studies at Brandeis University. His many publications include From Image to Idea: A Study of Simile in Dante's Commedia (1977) and a translation of Dante's "Il Convivio" (Garland, 1990). He has served on the board of the Dante Society of America and has been the recipient of numerous academic awards and grants.


In the English-speaking world, Dante has the status of a great unknown. His reputation is secure; his Inferno, with its scrupulously organized tiers of punishment, is a byword and a blessing for satirists and artists; his life and works are the subjects of a steady, enthusiastic stream of secondary literature. Yet the whole of his work is little understood. Few readers ever advance beyond the first portion of his mighty poem to its conclusion in Heaven; fewer still ever gain a sufficient understanding of his context, of the nuances of his response to his world, or of the complexity of his approach to style, language, and religious belief. One mark of the incompleteness of our knowledge is that this immense new reference work on Dante is almost unprecedented in our language, as Lansing (Italian studies, Brandeis Univ.) points out. This work includes entries on all principal characters in the Divina Commedia, as well as on his other writings, the tortured politics of his day, the formative theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, translations into English, metrics, and the reputation of Dante in other countries and centuries. Especially valuable are judicious articles on hotly debated questions, such as the meaning of Dante's ambiguous Ulysses in the Inferno or the true identity of the Matelda of the Purgatorio. The back matter contains some marvelous additional resources, including an exhaustive listing of musical settings of the Commedia, and a list of the Popes and Holy Roman Emperors down to Dante's day. Some of the articles are needlessly dry, but on the whole, this new resource is hard to fault. An indispensable reference work for most libraries, it is an excellent point of entry for readers eager to probe the deeper mysteries of this great genius's work. Highly recommended.DGraham Christian, formerly with Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

This massive but highly readable reference work can be used often by educators and general readers alike...it has remarkable consistency of style, content, and space....This information makes interesting reading. High level of clarity, insight, and sophistication is maintained throughout....."-American Reference Books Annual

..."a splendid work, highly recommended for all academic libraries concerned with the humanities." -Choice

'...almost unprecedented in our language... An indispensable reference work for most libraries... Highly recommended." -Library Journal (starred review)

"Comprehensive and authoritative, offering the reader access to both Dante's personal genius, as well as the time in which he lived....the "Dante Encyclopedia returns real value for the investment. Both serious Dante scholars and undergraduates studying him for the first time will benefit from this reference. It is an encyclopedia that does justice to its subject, and that is saying a lot."-Against the Grain

"The premier English-language reference source on Dante.... Comp lit will never be the same."-College and Research Libraries News

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