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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and original and readable, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
I have just finished reading Dante's Invention which I enjoyed enormously.In common with many people I am sure, I have always wanted to know more about Dante, his life and the Divine Comedy, but have felt a little intimidated.

This book is a very readable account of Dante's life, and it weaves the sometimes dramatic events with the Divine Comedy and Dante's other works. The book makes it's subject and the times in which he lived accessible and fascinating, but in no respect is it Dante 'lite'.It is obviously very well researched and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to find out more about this astonishing figure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 26 Oct 2010
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
A friend of mine recommended this book to me - and I'm glad they did. Dante's Invention is a journey through both a man's life and his masterwork. Burge is excellent on the religious, historical and philosophical import of The Divine Comedy. The passages on Dante's love for Beatrice are both philosophical and touching. Dante's fellow poets, the Popes and politicians of the period - fun, wicked and mad - also colour the book's pages.
One can read this book without a great deal of prior knowledge about the poet and his era, although by the end you may find yourself wanting to read The Divine Comedy or a book on Florence.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtly love, corruption, heaven and hell, 1 Mar 2011
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
In historical literature, there tends to be something of a gulf between the dumbed-down popularistic approach and heavily-footnoted academic tomes. I can't say I find either approach appealing, so it was a real delight to come across James Burge's first book, Heloise & Abelard, which cast an intelligent but eminently readable eye on what turned out to be a fascinating topic.

And with Dante's Invention, he's gone and done it again! Who'd have thought a medieval Italian and his elaborately intricate epic poem could prove so absorbing? Dante's Invention gives an informative and entertaining crash-course in both the life & times of Dante Alighieri, complete with warring city states and corrupt power-crazed popes, and Dante's poetic masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, which, while rooted in medieval theology, in its humanity clearly transcends the blinkered strictures of the age.

It seems that Burge is also a TV documentary maker and he is particularly good at drawing out the cinematic vision Dante employed in his compelling descriptions of the delights of heaven and the tortures of hell. (The beautiful Beatrice consuming the live heart of the poet, and the denizen of hell who, eating the brain of his companion, carefully wipes his lips on the hair of the chewed-up skull before addressing Dante, come particularly to mind; perhaps not a book for the squeamish.)

In sum, I would say that Burge - with a wry 21st-century wit all of his own - has succeeded in shining some real light on the dark ages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, and a great improvement on Heloise & Abelard, 18 April 2011
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
Brilliantly written from start to finish with fantastic depth of knowledge and a sly, dry wit - often with the punchline in the footnote. Far far better and more informative than 99% of Best Selling histories. Mr Burge's publishers don't seem to be serving him as well as they should on the publicity front.

My only quibble is that most men don't rate women in order of preference. Although they may score them out of ten we basically have monogamous hearts and can only deal with one love at a time. So when Mr Burge says Beatrice is No. 9 in his Florence pecking order I think he is plain wrong. She is No. 1 (at least when she says that fateful hello), it's probably that she is the 9th woman who has sent palpitatons through his heart and liver. But the texts may prove me wrong.....

Keep up the good work, and if your publishers let you down you have the ability to write a knock-out Dr Who two-parter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PERFECT GUIDE, 22 Sep 2013
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Dr. S. J. Wyatt (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
James Burge's book is by far the most helpful introduction I have come across to Dante. It is sharp, witty, straightforward and well-documented - and the perfect antidote to all the academic commentaries with their off-putting plodding interpretations, charts and maps. Particularly illuminating is his juxtaposition of Dante's life with his poetic achievements. My only regret is that Burge decided to give little or no time to the Purgatorio which is to my mind the most interesting part of The Divine Comedy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dante, 21 Nov 2010
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
Dante is one of those historical figures that I have been "meaning" to read about, but all the books I looked at seemed to be aimed at the serious scholar, which I am not. So when I came across James Burges book I was immediately drawn to its more manageable size. This is not a weighty tome, there are only some 200 odd pages, but its packed full of fascinating facts, both about Dante and the era in which he lived. I really enjoyed it. Its very well written and the author wears his knowledge lightly. The only problem I had was that I just dont know enough about Italy in the 13/14th centuries and I should have taken a history lesson first!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible & Enjoyable., 26 Oct 2010
This review is from: Dante's Invention (Hardcover)
James Burge has written an accessible and enjoyable introduction to Dante and his times(whilst also providing insights for serious fans and scholars). Dante's Invention is part History, part Biography and part cultural essay. One can't help but read this intelligent - and fun - book without admiring Dante (the Italian Shakespeare) and seeing The Divine Comedy in its true light - that of a sublime masterpiece.
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Dante's Invention
Dante's Invention by James Burge (Hardcover - 4 Oct 2010)
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