Forum / approaching Dante

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    Mar 27, 06:49pm

    Most unfortunately, sadly, and regrettably, one of 2020's plague victims in Italy turned out to be Marco Santagata, who died in November and who had been one of post-War Italy's most capable Dante scholars, if not THE pre-eminent Dante scholar of his generation.

    Most fortunately, gladly, and gratefully, his literary biography Dante: The Story of His Life was published in Milan in 2013 and has since been translated by Richard Dixon and published by Belknap/Harvard (Cambridge, London) in 2016.

    While unfamiliar with other biographies of Dante, I have to believe this one will endure for decades (or longer, posterity permitting) as the masterpiece it shows itself to be. Santagata exercised judiciousness both in his own interpretation and in alerting readers to the rival interpretations of Dante's career that remain inevitable due to the abundant documentary gaps.

    I began reading it only after reading the relevant section from Machiavelli's Florentine History and find Santagata to've ably filled in much detail concerning the political and cultural landscape of the Firenze (and its neighboring/rival city-states) of Dante's days.

    As you might expect, the Notes section is almost as detailed and extensive as the ten chapters of narrative, and both are well-studded with references to personages who came to inhabit the different departments in the Commedia.

    Any approach to Dante today without Santagata's biography would indeed entail the risk of finding oneself stranded "alone in a dark wood".

    Many thanks, Marco Santagata, i viva Dante!

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    Apr 04, 06:59pm

    One fine adjunct to Santagata's literary biography is this documentary concerning the Botticelli illustrated edition of the Commedia (never completed--this edition was not cited by Santagata):

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    Sam Rasnake
    May 10, 02:55pm

    I need to read Santagata's book. Thanks for the information, Edward.

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