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How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History's Greatest Poem Hardcover – April 14, 2015
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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"We will use How Dante Can Save Your Life in our classrooms because it makes the Divine Comedy live in a person—and students need to experience this. I look forward to the rest of you finding in Dreher’s book the wit, wisdom, and application of the great poem to a small life." (John Mark Reynolds, provost of Houston Baptist University and author of When Athens Met Jerusalem)
"By weaving his own pilgrimage into Dante's, Rod Dreher makes Dante accessible and, more important, compelling. He has assimilated what is most urgent in Dante and by grafting it to his own story he makes the Divine Comedy passionately real. This is certainly the book for those who previously have only come across Dante as a name. Equally important, it provides fresh insights to those of us who are already hooked." (Ronald B. Herzman, State University of New York at Geneseo and co-teacher of The Great Courses lectures on The Divine Comedy)
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Top Customer Reviews
Beyond that, however, it is hard to sort out exactly what this book is. The body of each chapter weaves description and summary analysis of a selected canto or two of "Divine Comedy" with autobiographical passages on how that canto (allegedly) applied to the author’s life. A text box of watered-down and not all that helpful self-help tips appears at the end of the chapter. Some credit is due the author for those portions that directly discuss "Divine Comedy" as they include interesting takes and ideas, especially in the "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso" parts. But I'm generally familiar with "Divine Comedy" -- I fear somewhat for the reader of this book who has not read "Divine Comedy", as the content of this book seems to assume some level of familiarity even though it says none is assumed. So as an introduction to "Divine Comedy" to the unfamiliar, this book may work to a limited extent.
But this book is more an over-sharing autobiography than anything else. The author apparently believes that his personal journey toward healing using "Divine Comedy" will serve as an example of how the reader can do the same. But this is an odd approach: "Divine Comedy" on its own beautifully accomplishes this already, in a way that applies to all humans and all manner of sin.Read more ›
My biggest critique is that this book is 75% about Dreher and 25% about Dante. Dreher seems obsessed with how he thinks and reacts. Throughout the book, he uses narrative techniques to talk about himself: "I took a sip from the large plastic tumbler of ice water I kept with me at all times, since the Epstein-Barr virus left me perpetually thirsty" (p. 172). The book becomes less a testimony and more a personal narrative in which he is the hero. And he says as such (p. 219). This was distasteful. If people who talk about themselves all the time bug you, you might want to pass on this book. Dreher is the main character and everyone else--even Dante--only has a supporting role.
Dreher's analysis of Dante, when it is allowed to muscle between Dreher's storytelling and introspection, is good. I wanted more of it. I really want to read The Divine Comedy, so there is that.
Another problem with the book is that Dreher seems to have an epiphany every chapter. This is just unrealistic. He also seems to equate epiphany with growth and learning with change.Read more ›
How Dante Can Save Your Life picks up in the years following the events of his other memoir, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, which chronicles his sister’s fight with cancer. Following her death, Dreher had picked up and, after decades away from home, moved back to Louisiana, trying to reconnect and mend tattered relationships with his family. Little Way was the story of how he came to do that. How Dante Can Save Your Life is the story of how his attempt failed.
Despite returning home, Dreher recounts that his relationships with family—especially his father and nieces—were terrible. I like Dreher a lot and value his opinions, but having read his work for several years now, he strikes me as a classic oversharer. Reading Little Way, I could only wonder, despite being moved to tears, what his family thought of such a soul-baring memoir. In my experience, a tell-all—even an affectionate, nostalgic tell-all—alienates people. This book gave me an answer: “I showed Mike the manuscript of Little Way before I turned it in, and asked him to let me know if he wanted me to make any changes. He did not ask for changes, but as I learned later, the book displeased him greatly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Touching, thought-provoking, and helpful for anyone who is trying to take stock of his life and make peace with his past. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Steve Hawkins
This can be a life-saving book for anyone who wants to grow spiritually and emotionally. Dreher recommends reading The Divine Comedy in conjunction with listening to the Teaching... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Susan K.
"How Dante Saved My Life" not only reveals much of the beauty and mystery of Dante's intimidating lengthy poem, The Divine Comedy, it makes it so accessible, relatable and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Donald A Curry
This book is written by a distant cousin who happens to live in my hometown. It is a spiritual, emotional deep roller coaster ride through family and hometown dynamics. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kimberly M.
I went into this with eyes wide open, that it was not an analysis of The Divine Comedy (and indeed, the author states that upfront). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Melanie Rigney
This poor author needs to go to Confession and stop writing all his FEELINGS ABOUT HOW MUCH EVERYONE ON THIS EARTH HAS WOUNDED HIM............... He is highly inappropriate. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Debby from NJ
Excellent book. Beautiful illustrations too. The depth and beauty of traditional Christian theology has been obscured and prejudiced against unfortunately, due to tv charlatans and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by C. S. Godwin
I want to say this is an exceptional book, in part affirmed by my many underlines in the text. Most books I judge exceptional, however, have a point, a message which I can... Read morePublished 5 months ago by T. E. Salapatek