Underlying Barbara Reynolds’s book is a big idea: that Dante’s Divina commedia was written with the intention of entertaining an audience. To some readers this may seem blindingly obvious – why else would someone write the fictional story of one man’s journey across the universe? But in the context of a book about Dante it is a refreshing observation. Entertainment is frequently the first casualty of scholarship and, to read many books about him, you would think that his great work was either a textbook on philosophy in the late Middle Ages or well-intentioned political observation wrapped up in arcane code (it does, of course, contain elements of both these things, but then that is genius for you).
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.
It's 'all lively and entertaining but rather too black and white. Her account of British politics and the success of the Brexit campaign verges on the cartoonish.'
@David_Goodhart on Anne Applebaum's 'Twilight on Democracy'.
'Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, once asked Isaiah Berlin who his ideal dinner guest would be. Without hesitation Berlin exclaimed, ‘William James!’'