Dante’s Road: The Journey Home for the Modern Soul (2019) by Marc Thomas Shaw

“This spiritual guidebook follows in the footsteps of Dante on his journey through the Divine Comedy. A fresh, modern take on this path, the book invites us to explore these questions: what is my hell and how do I move through it? What is my purgatory and what lesson do I need to take away? What is my paradise; how do I get there and how do I stay there? With wisdom distilled from the great myths, scriptures, and the world’s mystics, this book is an invitation to ever-greater awakening and wholeness” [. . .]    —Amazon

Dante’s Road was written by Marc Thomas Shaw and published by Amanchara Books on February 27th, 2019.

Spiritual Direction from Dante: Avoiding the Inferno (2019) by Fr. Paul Pearson

“Hell and how to avoid it are perennial topics of interest for believing Christians and others. With good reason. Entire libraries have been written on the subject. Most people, even those familiar with his classic, do not realize that Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy, chock-full as it is of history and politics, is a masterpiece of spiritual writing. The most famous of his three volumes is the Inferno, an account of Dante’s journey through the underworld, where he sees the horror of sin firsthand. [. . .]

“A reading experience like no other, Spiritual Direction from Dante, will educate and entertain you, but most importantly, will help you avoid the inferno!”    —Amazon

Spiritual Direction from Dante was written by Father Paul Pearson and published by TAN Books February 4th, 2019.

Enrico Castelli Gattinara, Come Dante può salvarti la vita (Giunti, 2019)

Enrico-Castelli-Gattinara-Come-Dante-puo-salvarti-la-vita-2019“Nell’era dell’effetto Dunning-Kruger, quella distorsione per cui chi meno sa più crede di sapere, è bello scoprire che invece ci sono stati casi – e tanti – in cui sapere, ricordare, rievocare ha fatto letteralmente la differenza tra vivere o morire, tra fortuna e miseria, tra resistenza e disperazione. E non il conoscere pratiche estreme di sopravvivenza, ma il fatto di riportare alla mente il brano di un grande classico imparato a memoria ai tempi della scuola, di sapere come posare le dita su uno strumento musicale, di riuscire a immaginare un dipinto o poter scattare una fotografia, di comprendere, se non interpretare, un’opera teatrale. Il fatto di avere l’opportunità di accedere alla cultura. Sì, alla cultura. Enrico Castelli Gattinara tutti i giorni deve trovare il modo per convincere i suoi ragazzi che conoscere serve. E quando loro sbuffano alla richiesta di imparare qualche verso di Dante a memoria, comincia a raccontare loro la storia di un uomo che grazie a quelle terzine è sopravvissuto al campo di concentramento.”    — Giunti catalog

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

What Rod Dreher Ought to Know About Dante and Same-Sex Love

“Dante saved my life,” testifies Rod Dreher, senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative, in his recent book, How Dante Can Save Your Life (Simon & Schuster, 2015) about how the poet’s Divine Comedy can save yours as well. His soul-baring account of how Dante Alighieri and two other spiritual guides — a Christian Orthodox priest and an evangelical therapist –helped him escape a dark wood of stress-induced depression and physical illness is smart, moving, and thoroughly engaging. Dreher’s Dante, like Virgil in the poem, does the lion’s share of the guiding, and so earns top billing and occupies most of the narrative’s prime real estate. In showing how the poem brought deeper understanding of himself and his relationships with his father, sister, and God, and in sharing the substance of those life lessons with readers (mostly in appendices to the chapters), the author does not disappoint.

“For those of us who have studied, taught, and written on Dante’s works and their legacy over many years, Dreher’s understanding and use of the Commedia will undoubtedly raise legitimate doubts and objections. However, I found myself more often than not nodding in recognition at his deft discussion of characters, scenes, and themes of the poem. Most of his sharpest points pierce the surface of famous inhabitants of Hell — amorous Francesca, proud Farinata, worldly Brunetto, and megalomaniacal Ulysses are among the highlights; oddly for a book on rescuing lives and souls, he devotes fewer words to the saved individuals in Purgatory and Paradise.” […]    –Guy P. Raffa, Pop Matters, January 21, 2016

Pascal’s Wager 2.0

28stoneWeb-blog480-v2“[…] But the ethical value is a matter of my own judgment, independent of religious authority. And the understanding may be only a partial illumination that does not establish the ultimate truth of the ideas that provide it, as, for example, both Dante and Proust help us understand the human condition, despite their conflicting intellectual frameworks. None of this will interfere with a commitment to intellectual honesty. […]”    –Gary Gutting, The New York Times, September 28, 2015

Rod Dreher, How Dante Can Save Your Life (2015)

DreherDanteIn his 2015 book, How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem, writer Rod Dreher explores, from an ex-Catholic perspective, how the Commedia helped him come out of a deep depression.

“Dante helped Dreher understand the mistakes and mistaken beliefs that had torn him down and showed him that he had the power to change his life. Dreher knows firsthand the solace and strength that can be found in Dante’s great work, and distills its wisdom for those who are lost in the dark wood of depression, struggling with failure (or success), wrestling with a crisis of faith, alienated from their families or communities, or otherwise enduring the sense of exile that is the human condition.”    —Simon & Schuster

Contributed by Marija Petkovic, Stanford University ’18

Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book”


ultimateselfhelp-wall-street-journal-image-of-dante
“Everybody knows that The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written. [ . . . ]

“The practical applications of Dante’s wisdom cannot be separated from the pleasure of reading his verse, and this accounts for much of the life-changing power of the Comedy. For Dante, beauty provides signposts on the seeker’s road to truth. The wandering Florentine’s experiences with beauty, especially that of the angelic Beatrice, taught him that our loves lead us to heaven or to hell, depending on whether we are able to satisfy them within the divine order.

“This is why The Divine Comedy is an icon, not an idol: Its beauty belongs to heaven. But it may also be taken into the hearts and minds of those woebegone wayfarers who read it as a guidebook and hold it high as a lantern, sent across the centuries from one lost soul to another, illuminating the way out of the dark wood that, sooner or later, ensnares us all.”

Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante’s Divine Comedy“, Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2014

Contributed by Allen Wong (Bowdoin ’14)

 

Review of Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, Promise Land (2014)

promise-land-jessica-lamb-shapiro-2014“It’s ingrained in human nature to look at ourselves with a weary awareness of all that’s wrong within, and the optimism that someone, somewhere can tell us how to fix it. As Jessica Lamb-Shapiro points out in her ambitious if unfulfilling new memoir-cum-odyssey, Promise Land, we’ve been gobbling up self-help advice for nearly as long as the written word has existed, devouring it in the ancient Egyptian Sebayt writings and the Book of Proverbs. But our contemporary mania for the wisdom of Dr. Phil is different from what generations past gleaned from Epictetus or even Dale Carnegie, and Lamb-Shapiro aims to explain how. Along the way, she’s on a quest to fix herself. Lamb-Shapiro, who has written for The Believer and McSweeney’s, is a witty and enjoyably self-aware writer. She’s certainly a far more entertaining guide through hellish terrain — like a preshow interrogation by a ‘Dr. Oz’ producer — than Dante was given.” [. . .]    –Mary Elizabeth Williams, The New York Times, January 3, 2014

“Dante’s Self-Help Book”

william-blake-inferno-26-wall-street-journal.jpg“There are monuments to Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) everywhere in Italy, where three years of study in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ are required for young people to learn how to lead the best possible life. One cannot imagine Italy’s culture without Dante’s 14th-century work — any more than one could imagine Britain’s without Shakespeare or America’s without the Declaration of Independence.
Unlike most other world classics, The Divine Comedy is a self-help book. People read Shakespeare with no expectation that they will become Shakespeare. But many read Dante expecting to mimic his results and transform themselves from seekers, lost in their own questions, into poets, certain and transcendent.” [. . .]    –Harriet Rubin, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2007

Contributed by Jake Bourdeau

Schaub and Schaub, “Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom” (2004)

schaub-and-schaub-dantes-path-a-practical-approach-to-achieving-inner-wisdom“Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom is primarily a self-help book. However, it is a self-help book with a difference. Authors Bonney Gulino Schaub and Richard Schaub use their perceptive, though simple reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy to guide their readers through a process that allows them to access their internal wisdom, or ‘wisdom mind,’ to achieve liberation from their fears and to realize their deeper potential.” [. . .]    —Amazon