Critical Insights: The Inferno

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Editor: Patrick Hunt, Ph.D., University College London
September 2011 · 1 volume · 360 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-58765-838-9
# of Pages: 360
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-890-7
eBook Single User Price: $105

This volume is intended to make Dante's Inferno more accessible to inquiring students. Essays include a close reading of Dante, a chapter comparing and contrasting Dante's Inferno to his other writing, a history of the critical response to his work, and a chapter on the cultural and historical context of the poem.

Dante deserves a new reading with each successive generation, not because his poem evokes an obsolete Christian world or relic philosophy worthy of being curated in the museum of intellectual history, nor because he bridges several influential worlds long gone from view but still deeply rooted in our art, literature and common figurative language.

Dante is immortal because his epic poem distills more creative genius in the few decades it took to write than many cultures preserve of their legacy over millennia. Dante is at the very heart of Western Culture.

While Dante was for awhile underappreciated soon after the Renaissance, it was the great Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) who helped to restore Dante's reputation by bringing him back into favor in the modern Anglophone world. Coleridge quoted him in his poetry and even more often in his lectures. Judging by his own imagination and appreciation of poetic epic and theology (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), Coleridge was a visionary in his own right and was a good judge of poetic genius.

Now on the shelves of every major university and college library in the world, hundreds of volumes of translations, commentaries and derived scholarship demonstrate that many academic careers have been devoted entirely to Dante. Highly regarded journals, conferences and learned societies still center or gather frequently around Dante's peerless work.

In his preface to Danteworlds (2007), Guy Raffa recently said, "We are in the midst of a mini renaissance in the cultural appreciation of Dante's poetic masterpiece the Divine Comedy."

This Critical Insights volume is not intended to add to this ever-growing, almost endless number of commentaries, but rather to make Dante's Inferno even more accessible to enquiring students. The contributors to this new volume are in the main Dante scholars. Included are both new works by current authorities and reprints of seminal scholarship over decades.

The Critical Lens offers a close reading of Inferno. Another essay compares and contrasts Inferno to Dante's other writing. There is also a chapter on the critical reception of Dante, reviewing a history of response to his work. Also considered are the cultural and historical context of Dante's Inferno.

Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index