Dante in Love

A. N. Wilson




Trade Paperback

400 Pages


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For William Butler Yeats, Dante Alighieri was “the chief imagination of Christendom.” For T. S. Eliot, he was of supreme importance, both as poet and philosopher. Coleridge championed his introduction to an English readership. Tennyson based his poem “Ulysses” on lines from the Inferno. Byron chastised an “Ungrateful Florence” for exiling Dante. The Divine Comedy resonates across five hundred years of our literary canon.

A. N. Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to grasp the meaning of Dante’s great poem. He explains how the Italian states were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy. He shows how Dante’s preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology, and the great Christian philosophers inform every line of the Comedy.

Dante in Love also explores the enigma of the man who never wrote about the mother of his children, yet immortalized the mysterious Beatrice whom he barely knew. With a biographer’s eye for detail and a novelist’s comprehension of the creative process, A. N. Wilson paints a masterful portrait of Dante Alighieri and unlocks one of the seminal works of literature for a new generation of readers.


Praise for Dante in Love

“The narrative is exceptionally lucid and the detail always vivid. This is biography done by a novelist at the height of his powers.”—Jonathan Bate, The Telegraph
"The most illuminating guide to Dante and his world that I have ever read."—Sarah Bradford, author of Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy
Wilson is an excellent twenty-first-century Virgil for anyone who has ever lost their way in Dante's dark wood, or who has yet to venture in."—Sarah Bakewell, The Sunday Times Magazine (London)

"Dante in Love is not just a thoroughly readable, illuminating story but, with its fascinating store of detail a practical reference volume. It is a worthy vade mecum with which to explore Dante's masterpiece itself."—Fiona Sampson, The Independent
"Because Wilson loves the poet's writing and is fascinated by his ideas, the book always feels committed to its subject, driven by a powerful appetite to cover every possible angle of interpretation, every reference, every relevant historical context."—Andrew Motion, The Guardian

In the Press

DANTE IN LOVE by A.N. WilsonKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of DANTE IN LOVE . "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost."

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

IWHY THIS BOOK HAS BEEN WRITTENDANTE IS THE GREATEST POET OF THE MIDDLE AGES. IT COULD BE argued that he was the greatest of all European poets, of any time or place. Yet, for many, perhaps nearly all (non-Italian), readers, he also remains unread. Most literate people are aware of only a few facts about him and nearly all of these are wrong, such as that he was romantically involved with a girl called Beatrice. Dante, a married man with children, did have love affairs, some of them messy, and about some of them, he wrote. Beatrice was not in this sense one of the women in his life. She was something
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  • A. N. Wilson

  • A. N. Wilson is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist. He lives in North London.

  • A. N. Wilson