- Paperback: 183 pages
- Publisher: Canon Press (December 21, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1885767161
- ISBN-13: 978-1885767165
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,333,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ascent to Love: A Guide to Dante's Divine Comedy
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About the Author
Peter J. Leithart (PhD, Cambridge) is President of Theopolis Institute in Birmingham, Albama and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. He is the author of numerous books on theology and literature, including The Baptized Body, Against Christianity, Brightest Heaven of Invention, and Ascent to Love. He has also authored articles in journals such as Pro Ecclesia, Journal of Biblical Literature, Westminster Theological Journal, and First Things. Peter and his wife Noel have ten children and a fetching collection of grandchildren.
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Top customer reviews
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I received this book as a gift from my `Wish List.' It was there because I was somewhat off-put by the description of the book as "using a biblical angle to open up the Comedy for students, high school and up" and therefore was hesitant to buy it myself. I should have remembered that publishers, not authors, write book jacket blurbs.
Leithart's pedagogy is thematic and the main theme is love and love's correlates defects and excesses; e.g. justice, pride, lust, etc. First, love themes in classic, biblical, medieval and renaissance literature are explored for what they are, how they arose, and how they relate to one-another. Then, adding to his literary analysis the autobiographical nature of Dante's corpus, Leithart develops a portrait of Dante's own evolution as a love poet, political thinker, and lover of Beatrice. Now Leithart is ready take the reader along on Dante's "Ascent to Love" through the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, from "having wandered off the straight path" to the beatific vision.
Early in his essay on the Inferno, Leithart describes the horror of Ugolino's position, "near the bottom of the pit of Hell." He then summarizes Dante's vision of Hell's horrors as tame compared to Steven King and other modern horror but is none-the-less, as stated on Hell's portal, "set in an explicitly Christian context" revealing God's justice, wisdom and the "Spirit's love" and the Inferno is the beginning of Dante's "training" in this understanding. Through the remainder of his essay on Inferno, as well as those on Purgatorio and Paradiso, Leithart describes its structure and Dante's journey. There are frequent references and quotes from Dante's sources: St. Augustine, the Bible, the Iliad, etc.; in depth treatment of several key images and episodes in each of the canticles; and, a few forward references to the likes of C. S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot.
With crisp, clear text and ample reference footnotes to further study, I can highly recommend Leithart's book as a valuable introductory text or a refreshing review for Dante students, scholars and hobbyists.