Dante Alighieri created poetry of unparalleled force and beauty that proved influential far beyond the borders of his native Italy and beyond his own time. This new collection brings together selections from a wide variety of English translations of Dante's poetry including the passionate Vita Nuova and the Commedia - his epic tale of one man's journey into the after-life. It also includes extracts from a wealth of poems inspired by his work - including Spenser's Faerie Queen, Milton's Paradise Lost, Ezra Pound's Cantos and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. Covering the period from Chaucer to the present day, this is a remarkable exploration of the heritage provided by one of the most inspirational poets of all time.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265. At about twenty he married Gemma Donati, with whom he has three children. He first met Beatrice Portinari in 1274, and when she died in 1290 he sought distraction by studying philosophy and theology and by writing the VITA NUOVA. During this time he became involved in the strife between the Guelfs and the Ghibelines; he became a prominent White Guelf and when the Black Guelfs came to power in 1302 Dante, during an absence from Florence, was condemned to exile. He took refuge first in Verona and after wandering from place to place, he settled in Ravenna. While there he completed THE DIVINE COMEDY, which he had begun in 1308. He died in Ravenna in 1321. Eric Griffiths is Fellow in English at Trinity College, Cambridge and works principally on English poetry from the Restoration to the present day; with an interest in comparative literature (French, German, and Italian) and in philosophical and theological aspects of writing (he has published on Newman and Wittgenstein). He gave the British Academy Chatterton Lecture in 1992 and is the author of The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry (1989). Matthew Reynolds is a Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, author of The Realms of Verse 1830-70: English Poetry in a Time of Nation-Building (OUP, 2001), and a regular contributor to the LRB.