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Ascent to Love

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  67 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
As the unsurpassed Christian epic poem, Dante's Divine Comedy provides not only far more personality and emotional depth than the pagan epics, it opens up all the issues on which Western history turns-truth, beauty, goodness, sin, sanctification, and triumph. In this guide, Peter J. Leithart brings his rich biblical-typological insight to bear in opening up the Comedy for ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Canon Press (first published December 21st 2001)
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Douglas Wilson
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-study
Very good companion to Dante. Worth reading.
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
I have yet to read Dante's "Divine Comedy". I know it is something I need to read, but I have never managed to read it. As an attempt to move myself towards that goal, I picked up Peter Leithart's guide on Dante's Divine Comedy. I recommend it very highly for anyone who wants to understand better the method of writing and the structure of Dante's works.

The first two chapters set the stage for understanding medieval literature and courtly love and then the politics and times in which Dante wrote
Rick Davis
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, criticism
I don't believe that any one book could completely encapsulate all the nuances of the Divine Comedy. However, this guide by Peter Leithart would make an excellent companion on a journey through Dante's poem. The study questions are also suitable for classroom discussion. I have often thought that Leithart is at his best when writing about literature. This book is a good example of that.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: omnibus-books, 2014
Leithart has taken a difficult, obscure, and tedious work--The Divine Comedy, and made it understandable, relevant, and interesting. This is a great introduction and summary of The Divine Comedy and I recommend it much more than the actual work itself.

This will give you the flavor and understanding of the classic work without actually having to read the long, mind-numbing work itself. He almost makes me reconsider my opinion of the work. But I'm not sure that is possible.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I believe this is directed at high school/undergraduate readers (evidenced only by review and thinking questions at the ends of sections, a few authorial comments, plus the description on the back cover), but as a new reader of The Divine Comedy I found this guide to be very helpful. Leithart shows how the literature of courtly love, medieval philosophy and theology, classical literature and philosophy, and politics come together in the work. He gives an excellent, short overview, showing links ...more
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Unless you are a literature professor or certified theologian, do not attempt to read Dante's Divine Comedy without this book!(My understanding is that Leithart happens to be both!) My teenage daughter and I attempted to work our way through the trilogy without Leithart's excellent guide. Finally, I just set it aside until Leithart's book was published. What a difference some guidance makes. Many view the Divine Comedy as merely a theological examination of the "places" of hell, purgatory, and h ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Leithart has succeeded in this slim volume in offering much insight into Dante's masterpiece. He explains why the Inferno is the most popular part of the Divine Comedy. He shows how the corruption of love is the source of much pain in life. The delineation of levels of sin, from the least damaging sins which come from fleshly lust to the deplorable sins of pride and treachery, would surprise most non-christians. More interesting to christian readers would be the difference between those sufferin ...more
Jon Sedlak
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think this is an excellent guide to a very difficult book (Divine Comedy). Leithart picks out many of the meaningful characters and explains much of the "feeling" and imagery that Dante was trying to piece together with those characters. Admittedly, there are many names and figures in Dante's work which Leithart doesn't touch upon, but for all of the difficulty of Dante's book, I don't think I would have made it as far without this guide. I give four stars because it was very, very helpful for ...more
Ben De Bono
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a solid, if somewhat basic, overview of the Divine Comedy. A lot of it was familiar to me, but Leithart's discussion of the different structural elements in Dante were eye opening and excellent.

I'd definitely recommend this - along with Dante Worlds - to a new Dante reader or someone looking to reread with some guidance.
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is Leithart's book about The Divine Comedy of Dante. It has a lot of really helpful ideas on the structure of the work and gives a lot of good big picture details of the books. It doesn't have a wealth of information on all the individual characters who show up in the books, but it does put the work into a recognizable pattern and theme, which helps tremendously.
Holly Ordway
Jun 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A helpful, accessible guide to the Divine Comedy that gives the big picture and doesn't get bogged down in too many details. Excellent starting point for those interested in getting deeper into the Commedia.
Julie Davis
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: dante
I like this as an overview and brief analysis of Dante's Divine Comedy but don't like it as well as either Reading Dante or the Dante section of Heaven and Hell by Louis Markos.
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
A first-rate companion and guide to Dante's masterwork.
Burl Horniachek
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
There are a couple great chapters on Francesca and Ulysses.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very helpful again. Dr. Leithart obviously writes from what he's taught much about already and he remains very clear, very insightful, and very enjoyable to read. Driving me back to Dante.
Peter B.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture
A helpful commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy that gave me more understanding and appreciation for the poem.
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Aug 24, 2015
Sue Ellen
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Dec 09, 2010
Joy Rubenking
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Mar 26, 2015
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Jun 27, 2014
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Mar 10, 2013
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Patrick Gruber
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Jan 31, 2018
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I always find Peter Leithart's books helpful and engaging, and this is no exception!
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Feb 25, 2012
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Peter Leithart received an A.B. in English and History from Hillsdale College in 1981, and a Master of Arts in Religion and a Master of Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1986 and 1987. In 1998 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. He has served in two pastorates: He was pastor of Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church (now Trinity Presbyter ...more
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