Dante: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199684779

Peter Hainsworth; David Robey
144 ページ
114 x 173 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • A clear and wide ranging exploration of Dante's work
  • Uses a thematic approach to examine the challenges of his work, and his life, and works
  • Places Dante within the context of his time
  • Provides an in-depth exploration of The Divine Comedy and its meaning

In this Very Short Introduction, Peter Hainsworth and David Robey take a different approach to Dante, by examining the main themes and issues that run through all of his work, ranging from autobiography, to understanding God and the order of the universe. In doing so, they highlight what has made Dante a vital point of reference for modern writers and readers, both inside and outside Italy. They emphasize the distinctive and dynamic interplay in Dante's writing between argument, ideas, and analysis on the one hand, and poetic imagination on the other. 
Dante was highly concerned with the political and intellectual issues of his time, demonstrated most powerfully in his notorious work, The Divine Comedy. Tracing the tension between the medieval and modern aspects, Hainsworth and Robey provide a clear insight into the meaning of this masterpiece of world literature. They highlight key figures and episodes in the poem, bringing out the originality and power of Dante's writing to help readers understand the problems that Dante wanted his audience to confront but often left up to the reader to resolve.


1: Introduction
2: Autobiography
3: Truth
4: Writing
5: Humanity
6: Politics
7: God
Further reading


Peter Hainsworth, Emeritus Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall Oxford, and David Robey, Emeritus Professor, University of Reading, and Emeritus Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford

Peter Hainsworth lectured in Italian at Hull and Kent Universities before moving to Oxford in 1979. He remained there until he retired in 2003. He has published widely on medieval and modern Italian literature, including Petrarch the Poet (Routledge, 1986). He reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement.

David Robey lectured in Italian at Oxford University before becoming Professor of Italian at Manchester and then Reading Universitties. He has published on 15th-century Italian humanism, language and style in Dante and Renaissance narrative poetry, the computer analysis of literature, and modern critical theory. He is the author of a computer-based study on Sound and Structure in Dante's 'Divine Comedy' (OUP, 2000), and an extensive data resource on Sound and Metre in Italian Narrative Verse. Peter Hainsworth and David Robey co-edited the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (2002), and were joint authors of Italian Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2012).

"The authors are much to be praised for not allowing the brevity of their volume to undermine or unjustly foreclose what Dante's text leaves to his reader'a judgement and sensibilities." - Fortean Times, Heather Webb

"Swift-moving, decisive, sensitive and suggestive" - The Manchester Review

"The authors are much to be praised for not allowing the brevity of their volume to overdetermine or unjustly foreclose what Dante's text leaves to his reader's judgement and sensibilties." - Heather Webb, The Times Literary Supplement

"There is something almost uncanny about how this book makes the work of a long-dead poet from another culture come alive... this book imparts knowledge as well as encouraging us to find it ourselves." - Guardian, Nicholas Lezard

"this work deftly explores aspects of Dante that were variously enlightened" - Independent, Christopher Hirst