Item description for A Modern Reader's Guide to Dante's the Divine Comedy by Joseph Gallagher...
Overview The Divine Comedy has been a cornerstone of Western literature for the better part of a millennium. In this work, Joseph Gallagher brings the power and prestige of this medieval classic to a new generation of readers--taking them on a guided tour through heaven, purgatory, and hell.
Publishers Description "The Divine Comedy" has been a cornerstone of Western literature for the better part of a millennium. In this work, Joseph Gallagher brings the power and prestige of this medieval classic to a new generation of readers--taking them on a guided tour through heaven, purgatory, and hell. (Formerly titled "To Hell and Back with Dante") "Paperback"
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Reviews - What do customers think about A Modern Reader's Guide to Dante's the Divine Comedy?
Don't Read Dante Without It Apr 7, 2008
A few years ago I read the prose translation of the Divine Comedy by John D. Sinclair. From the Inferno onward, I became both immersed and bewildered by the allusions, allegories and elements of Dante's masterpiece. By the time I got to see Beatrice in the Paradiso, I really felt more confused than awed.
I didn't absorb as much as I wanted to. The notes provided by Sinclair were concise but I really didn't have a context nor a deeper understanding of Dante's world. All I can say, is I wish I had this book with me at the time.
Gallagher begins with an Introduction, a "question and answer" section set up like an interview concerning Dante's background. The questions are straightforwards as are the answers. Then he takes on the three canticles, going Canto by Canto, exploring extra information (should it be needed) in the Notes following each substantial but brief exposition. Gallagher knows his Divine Comedy, he enlightens the reader by comparing passages, shedding light on the various themes, motifs and the Italian wordplay Dante incorporated (like Shakespeare, Dante was influential in creating his nation's modern vernacular). And of course he provides information on the fiction/non-fictional figures throughout the work.
I don't think there will ever be a specific, absolute interpretation of The Divine Comedy. Nor will there ever be a perfect way to tackle the text. Reading the Comedia of Dante is all about exploration but I think having Gallagher along as a guide is your best bet. He also has a nice bibliography at the end so you can take that next step. It would make Virgil proud.
Exactly what I was looking for Nov 28, 2007
This is exactly what I was looking for, a simple tour that I could read in my free time. I also bought a book with the Dore Illustrations of the Divine Comedy. A perfect way to go through the Comedy without actually reading it. Recommended for all of those who won't read the poetic translations but want to educate themselves with this important work of art.
Essential !! Mar 29, 2006
Dante is difficult to read, and I found this guide to be extremely useful. I also used the Cliff's notes, which were fine, and which supplemented Freccero's guide. My feeling is that most readers of Dante will benefit from all the help they can acquire, and having the Modern Reader's Guide is virtually essential!
Arguably the finest intro to Dante in English Oct 9, 2004
For the reader tackling Dante for the very first time, this might be the best book currently available. Though targeted at first time readers, this can also be helpful for those who need to review all the seemingly endless names the permeated the COMEDY on a second reading. There are three primary reasons that I so strongly recommend Gallagher's guide. First, it is geared to make Dante as accessible as possible without in any way trivializing or tritely popularizing the text. Second, for Gallagher reading Dante is not merely a question of spiritual devotion or literary adoration, but flat out fun. Reading Dante is and ought to be recognized as above all else flat out fun. Gallagher's enthusiasm and enjoyment of Dante pours out at every point. Third, although not geared to scholars, the book nonetheless was obviously written with an exceptional knowledge of the scholarly studies of the work, which is to say: the book is academically quite solid.
The book is arranged both simply and logically. First, after a foreword recommending the work by the most recent dean of Dante studies in the United States, John Freccero, and a preface by the author himself, Gallagher starts off with a series of questions that he anticipates any novice reader might have in approaching the text for the first time. By eliminating the connecting narrative and structure that this information would need if presented in essay form, Gallagher is able to compress a significant amount of helpful information in a very small amount of space. He then proceeds to provide a canto-by-canto commentary for each part of the COMEDY. He first discusses the action of each canto, and then makes a series of random comments on various aspects of the canto. The book concludes with a brief but helpful discussion of Dante's other surviving works and a bibliography.
For anyone wanting to read Dante for the first time, I recommend Gallagher's reader's guide above all other beginner's tools. Dante is not, as is often supposed, an especially difficult writer (with the caveat that there is much in Dante that remains impenetrable or mysterious for even lifelong scholars), but there are many mistakes that one starting off in Dante can easily make that can complicate reading him. There is also a confusing array of political characters, and while this in the long run is less of a problem than a beginner might imagine, Gallagher will serve as a reliable guide who will help the neophyte avoid many hazards and will point out many of the glories of Dante's great work.
Tour Guide Available for Trip "To Hell and Back" Mar 29, 2000
Joseph Gallagher, a retired Catholic priest and professor, who has taught at such venerable institutions as John Hopkins, Notre Dame, Loyola, and Oxford presents on an easy-to-understand guide through the intricacies of Dante's imaginative work. Written in a conversational style that anyone can understand, this expert tutor of many students for over 50 years explains each of the characters canto by canto. The outline at the beginning is a great help. While it is not as analytical as that of Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis", this book is a valuable addition. It should prove indispensable for those who need a companion guide; the homeschooler's library should contain this erudite explanation.