Dante's vision, The Divine Comedy, has profoundly affected every generation since it first appeared in the early 14th century. Here is a brief account of his life, compiled from various sources (including his first biographer, Boccaccio) by Benedict Flynn, whose new translation of the Comedy has been widely acclaimed. It sets the known facts of Dante's life against the turmoil of the times, and puts the very personal nature of his poetry into perspective.
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A brief literary biography like this should leave the listener with an impression of a writer's major work and some understanding of how his life informed that work. This short work doesn't leave much of an impression. Despite an unimpeachable narration by British actor John Shrapnel, the recording bogs down in its descriptions of the politics and history of medieval Italy. This, of course, is the groundwork upon which The Divine Comedy was written, but a short work like this is unable to provide any real synthesis, and the result is a contextual litany of names and dates.
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