Princeton Univ. Jan. 2020. 608p. ISBN 9780691154046. $35. LIT
Drawing on a lifetime of scholarly activity, Took (emeritus, Dante studies, Univ. Coll. London; L’Etterno Piacer: Aesthetic Ideas in Dante) offers an important intellectual biography of the medieval poet Dante Alighieri. Took centers his massive study on the entire body of Dante’s works, deploying lengthy quotations in the original and commentary to allow Dante and his peers to speak for themselves. The quotes are translated in footnotes followed by lists of the major scholarship. Took is especially interested in Dante’s relationship with his predecessors, as well as the importance of the minor works, from the early lyrics to the late treatise Questio de situ aque et terre, for our understanding of the Commedia. Those new to Dante seeking a biographical introduction, however, will be better served by those of Michele Barbi, Ricardo J. Quinones, or more recently Prue Shaw and Marco Santagatas.
VERDICT While not for beginners, Took’s biography is deeply enriching for those who have some grounding in Dante, for whom this is an essential resource.

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