Nicholas Lezard’s 10 Things You Need To Know About Dante


“For someone who was writing mainly in the early part of the 14th century, Dante’s shadow is long. He was a major influence on the modernists and their followers, especially TS Eliot – ‘The Waste Land’ is stuffed full of references to the Inferno – and Samuel Beckett, whose entire oeuvre could be said to be a reworking of themes and images from Dante. When asked what he wanted to do with his life, Beckett replied: ‘All I want to do is sit on my arse and fart and think about Dante,’ but luckily for us he also did a bit of writing as well. Meanwhile, a new translation of the Inferno comes out pretty much every year.” [ . . . ]

1. He might well be the greatest poet who ever lived.
2. He didn’t just write the Inferno, you know
3. Dante is still incredibly influential
4. He was still very much a product of his time
5. He more or less invented the Italian language
6. It’s not all doom and eternal punishment
7. More on love
8. He’s not easy to translate, but that hasn’t stopped people trying
9. He’s surprisingly comforting
10. He’s not that hard

–Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, May 9, 2013