Thanks to reviewer Angelina Stanford, writing for the CiRCE Institute, for her generous review of my book How Dante Can Save Your Life. Excerpts:
Dreher has crafted a wonderfully unique book, part literary criticism, part spiritual autobiography—part guide to how to read literature and part guide to how be the hero of your own life. Dreher is not a literary scholar and approaches his discussion of Dante’s work less like an academic and more like someone introducing you to his best friend. This makes the work incredibly accessible . And yet Dreher has done his homework. There is plenty here for an academic to get excited about too.
Sometimes a book falls into your hands at exactly the right moment. That’s what happened to me when I opened Dreher’s beautiful new book. So much so that I was tempted to write a review about how reading Dreher reading Dante saved my life. I expected to love the book because I love Dante and I wanted to understand his work better. But I had not expected that in the pages of Dreher’s book (just like Dreher had not expected of Dante’s book) that I would find my own story. The human condition, the journey of the soul—just like the literature that speaks of it—is universal. Even when the details differ, the story of the struggle to move from suffering to healing and the longing for redemption is the story of every life.
Dreher chose Dante as his guide to understanding his own spiritual journey. But in this book, Dreher can in turn be our guide, teaching us not only how to think about Dante, but teaching us how to interpret the story of our own lives. This book, quite unexpectedly, gave me hope about my own suffering and showed me a way forward, at the same time that it affirmed and deepened my love of literature. It can do that for you too. I hope that this book falls into your hands at exactly the right moment.
How Dante Can Save Your Life — that link takes you to the Amazon page — is in bookstores on Tuesday. If you are in the Baton Rouge area, I’ll be giving a talk and signing books at the Barnes & Noble at Citiplace on Tuesday night at 7.