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Dante
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About the Author

Erich Auerbach (1892-1957) was born in Berlin, educated at the Universities of Heidelberg and Greifswald, and served in the German army during World War I. A professor at the University of Marburg, Auerbach fled Hitler's Germany in 1933 for Istanbul, where his encyclopedic knowledge of literature allowed him to compose his great study of realism, Mimesis, largely from memory. In 1947 he moved to the United States, where he taught at Pennsylvania State and Yale Universities. Michael Dirda is the author of two collections of essays, Readings and Bound to Please, the memoir An Open Book, and, most recently, Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life. In 1993 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his reviews and essays in The Washington Post Book World. Before drifting into journalism, Dirda earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University, concentrating on medieval studies and European romanticism.

Reviews

"A well-woven garland of luminous details...It is good to welcome back Auerbach's Dante." --Bookforum

"It is arguably the best, if not the easiest, short introduction to Dante and his artistry." --Michael Dirda, from the Introduction "Auerbach offers the thought that for all its investment in the eternal and immutable, the Divine Comedy is even more successful in representing reality as basically human...The refinement of Auerbach's own writing about Dante is truly exhilarating to read, not just because of his complex, paradox-filled insights, but because of their Nietzschean audacity." --Edward Said A precursor and companion to Erich Auerbach's majestic Mimesis, Dante: Poet of the Secular World is both a comprehensive introduction to the work of one of the greatest poets and a brilliantly provocative and stimulating essay in the history of ideas. Here Auerbach, acclaimed by writers and scholars as various as Terry Eagleton, Guy Davenport, and Alfred Kazin as one of the greatest critics of the twentieth century, argues paradoxically but powerfully that it is to Dante, supreme among Christian poets, that we owe the concept of the secular world. Dante's poetry, Auerbach shows, offers an extraordinary synthesis of the sensuous and the conceptual, and individual and the universal, that redefined notions of human character and fate and opened the way into modernity. "This is a book with all the freshness and excitement of a new discovery. The account of Dante's poetry possesses a validity which no other book, past and present, can diminish." --Theodore Silverstein, University of Chicago

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