by Joseph Luzzi
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In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante's Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning--a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.
Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy "In the middle of our life's journey, I found myself in a dark wood."
When Luzzi's pregnant wife was in a car accident--and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter, Isabel--he finds himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieves and cares for his infant daughter, miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turns to Dante's Divine Comedy for solace.
In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helps the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the Inferno of his grief, the Purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then Paradise of the rediscovery of love.
A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn't realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante's epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi's book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man's descent into hell and back: it is Dante's journey, Joseph Luzzi's, and our very own
I, surprisingly really enjoyed reading this book. I appreciated what the book was trying to accomplish, and my love for Dante (not his books, but rather the man who wrote them) made me have fun reading this book.
This was not a story that you read for the beginning or the ending, for you know how it is going to go, but rather a story that you read because you want to know the middle. In that way it was like Dante. You know Dante starts in the Inferno, and ends by leaving the Paradise, but you read The Divine Comedy because you want to know what he saw throughout his journey.
I did, however, see a very big missed opportunity in this book. It had nine chapters (yes, 9 circles of hell, blah blah blah), but I really wish it has 33 chapters since each book of The Divine Comedy had 33 cantos.
I thought that this book did a very good job interweaving the author's story and other works of literature. It was cool learning more about Dante while reading this inspiring story about Joseph Luzzi's path to redemption.
Overall, this was a very good read if you enjoy Dante and/or nonfictional writings.
Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.
Joseph’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, May 27th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 28th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, June 3rd: Tina Says …
Friday, June 5th: Imaginary Reads
Monday, June 8th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 9th: A Book Geek
Sunday, June 13th: Create With Joy
Monday, June 15th: Buried in Print
Tuesday, June 16th: From L.A. to LA
Wednesday, June 17th: Jancee Reads
Thursday, June 18th: A Dream Within a Dream
Friday, June 19th: Belle’s Beautiful Books (here!!!)
Monday, June 22nd: Emerald City Book Review
I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and honestly it would be more difficult to make a dishonest review than a truthful one.