Reading Dante


Prue Shaw, Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity.

W. W. Norton and Co., New York, 2014. ISBN 978 0 87140 742 9

‘Prue Shaw’s brilliant new book … in fluent and compelling prose … takes on the most challenging task of all: to recover the astonishing power of the Comedy as literature and poetry … Shaw is the opposite of pious in recovering the sheer intellectual force of Dante’s theology … whether or not we are believers, we recognise that he is posing the fundamental questions of all human life.’


Robert Gordon, The Literary Review

‘Scholarly, compelling and original … Much of the charm of Shaw’s book comes from the way she combines her personal interests and enthusiasms with scholarly accuracy and balance. If she underlines his perennial modernity, her Dante still remains the historical author … as interesting an introduction to Dante as one could hope to find in any language.’


David Robey, Times Literary Supplement

“A source of wonder and envy….It makes us — if we are first-time readers — blink in wonder, or — if we are old hands who thought we knew Dante — feel as though we are understanding him for the first time…. Prue Shaw’s Reading Dante is a joy.”


A.N. Wilson, The Spectator

‘Splendid and enlightening. There couldn’t be a better introduction to the language of Dante’s poem for English-speaking readers.’


Giulio Lepschy,

Fellow of the British Academy,
Fellow of the Accademia della Crusca

“Shaw’s sharp, brilliantly engaging book delivers masterfully on its promise to fuel love for the Comedy precisely by dispelling readers’ anxieties, and showing how the great underlying concerns of this work are not only those of every work of art but are the stuff of life itself. Moreover, she keeps us so enthralled with her compelling and fast-paced prose that the only reason one would want to put down this book is to open the one she is talking about….A book such as Shaw’s is invaluable in putting literature and language back into the central cultural place they deserve – and, more importantly, into the centre of our hearts as readers.”


Elena Lombardi, Times Higher Education

‘You might expect an introduction to The Divine Comedy written by one of the world’s foremost Dante scholars, … who has spent many a year working in the dark corners of libraries decoding manuscript after manuscript, to be astute and accomplished, and perhaps even definitive. But you would not necessarily expect it to be completely enthralling, even – perhaps especially ­– for the non-specialist reader. But Prue Shaw’s remarkable Reading Dante succeeds on both scores. It is a virtuoso performance … the finest modern companion to the great poet.’


Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoia, The Tablet

‘In my more than 40 years reading Dante and my more than 20 years teaching him, I have never encountered a better introduction to the poet, in English or Italian, than this book … Shaw has given us a great book … she not only brilliantly succeeds in engaging prospective readers of Dante but also in teaching many of us older Dantistas new ways of imagining the poem. … a stunning achievement.’


Tim Redman, The Dallas Morning News

‘For all of us who have put off a trip into Dante’s great poem for fear of getting lost there for good, Prue Shaw’s intricate, humane, lucid and precise guide into Dante’s world and time at last provides the longed-for map. One might even say that Dante’s readers now have a Virgil of their own.’


Adam Gopnik

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