Sunday, February 19, 2006

Got any Rizlas Virg, I'm dyin' a skin up?

One of my regular time-wasters is searching Amazon UK using the Publication Date: Newest First selection. This morning, I entered 'Dante' into the search field. Second from top was a title that threw me for a moment: Dante's Divine Comedy Box. Is this a discovery of a cache of jokes, balloons and medieval card tricks? Ah, no. It's a rather dubious illustrated 'adaptation' of the Commedia.

The first book to arouse genuine interest was Peter Hawkins' A Brief History of Dante published in July by Blackwells. But I've still to read all of Dante's Testaments which I've been told is one of the best books on the subject.

Next, at the end of April, came veteran Dante scholar Barbara Reynold's Dante: The Poet, the Political Thinker, the Man from IB Tauris. What makes this book stand out is the claim that Reynolds' "research indicates that Dante smoked cannabis to reach heights of creativity". Who would have thunk it?

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