A Study on Part I of The Divine Comedy
By: Anthony Esolen, Ph.D.
Publication Date: 2012
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Dante's Divine Comedy can rightly be called the greatest poem ever written, praised through the ages by a pantheon of writers and scholars. Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) referred to Dante's crowned "visionary brow." Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941) said "Dante is my spiritual food!" Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922) called Dante "the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea." Even the 20th century literary critic T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) famously wrote that "Shakespeare and Dante divide the world between them, there is no third."
Yet today this great poem is often dismissed by modern scholars for its unabashed Catholic theology and deep spiritual vision. Shrug off these skeptical scholars disdain and discover for yourself the true grandeur, Christian nature, and sheer artistry of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Just as Dante needed Virgil to lead him through the bowels of Hell, you also need a true and trustworthy guide. Dr. Anthony Esolen serves as your Virgil in this course on the Inferno, the first canticle of the Divine Comedy. An expert who has taught Dante to college students for more than twenty years, Professor Esolen is also the preeminent modern translator of the entire Divine Comedy from the original Italian.
Esolen you will enter the terrible gates of Hell and progress level by infernal
level to its diabolical depths. Professor Esolen places a special emphasis on
the drama of the poem, leading you through each canto in succession. Along the
way, he will highlight Dante's astonishing human and theological insights and
discuss the destiny of man, how to find our way out of the wilderness of sin,
the relationship between love and knowledge, and the integral unity between
body and soul.
Professor Esolen will more than satisfy your curiosity about Hell and the fate of the damned. He will reveal in all its starkness the horror of sin, and awaken in your heart a longing for divine love.
Professor Anthony Esolen holds a Doctorate in Renaissance English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Professor of English at Providence College, located in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the translator of the celebrated three-volume Modern Library edition of Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a Senior Editor for Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and his articles appear regularly in First Things, Catholic World Report, Magnificat, This Rock, and Latin Mass.
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