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A Life in Works

Robert Hollander

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How did Dante come to create his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, a work unrivaled by any of his other writings? In this book, a preeminent Dante scholar analyzes the only real biography of the poet that we have—his body of works—to illuminate this question. Robert Hollander considers Dante’s political writings, commentary, and other poems as well as the Comedy to construct an intellectual biography of the great poet.
"Hollander's lucid and brilliant discussion . . . is a joy to read."—Bernard Knox, New York Review of Books

Robert Hollander, professor of European literature at Princeton University, is one of only three Americans ever to receive the gold medal of the city of Florence for their efforts on behalf of Dante.

"Hollander's lucid and brilliant discussion. . . is a joy to read."—Bernard Knox, New York Review of Books

"A biographical sketch and an excellent summary of Dante scholarship through the ages."—Book Forum

"Hollander is now the doyen of Dante studies in America, so it comes as no surprise that this study is masterful, coherent, engaging, and completely reliable."—Richard Lansing, Brandeis University  may edit 


“In this book Robert Hollander brilliantly condenses his forty years of research on Dante, including anything of value that has been added to Dante studies by other scholars. The result is an invaluable guide to Dante’s oeuvre with particular attention to the so-called ‘minor works’—the most complete and up-to-date introduction to Dante available in any language today.”—Lino Pertile  no changes without consultation 

“It is a cause of wonder to see that new books can be written on Dante; it is even more amazing to see that an ‘indispensable’ book can be written after centuries of intense critical work. Robert Hollander has given us such a book which reconstructs ‘the life of Dante through his works.’ It is an ‘intellectual biography’ that has all the drama of heroic lives spent fighting in defense of the highest values. Only a major Dante scholar could have written this book with that confidence and elegance that come from a superb scholarship, from the mastery of the immense bibliography on Dante. Robert Hollander has found a ‘narrative’ and elegant tone which saves us from another ‘academic’ essay on Dante without having to give up the fruits of rigorous philology. This a scholarly and delightful book which presents a refreshing ‘whole Dante.'"—Paolo Cherchi, University of Chicago  may edit

“In his usual feisty and erudite fashion, Robert Hollander usefully synthesizes Dante’s ‘life in words’ for the uninitiated, thus making us the beneficiaries of this quite personal and opinionated testament to a lifetime of devotion to the Florentine poet.”—Teodolinda Barolini, Lorenza Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University  may edit /author does not like this blurb, do not use

“An ambitious intellectual biography. Hollander looks at all of Dante’s works and has useful and illuminating things to say about them individually and in relation to one another.”—Rachel Jacoff, Wellesley College may edit 

“Hollander writes with brevity, clarity, and a confidence that comes from his mastery of the vast scholarship and a lifetime of reflection. This book is an important contribution to scholarship, yet readily accessible to the general reader.”—Library Journal

“A biographical sketch and an excellent summary of Dante scholarship through the ages.”—Book Forum

“Hollander’s lucid and brilliant discussion of the problems presented by this enigmatic work is a joy to read. . . . The precious core of Hollander’s book is a series of thoughtful, enlightening essays on various aspects of the Commedia.”—Bernard Knox, New York Review of Books

Providence Sunday Journa
“Hollander is one of the greatest living Dante scholars.”—Robert Royal, First Things

“Fruit of 40 years of teaching and research, Hollander’s Dante has the excitement of a detective novel along with the cold conviction of detached scholarship.”—Tom D’Evelyn, Providence Sunday Journal

“Unlike similar books, this excellent—and expert—introduction to Dante’s oeuvre surveys not only the Divine Commedia, but also considers Dante’s poetry and his theoretical work, so that a comprehensive picture emerges. Both beginners and specialists will read Hollander’s fine study with much profit—and some will even enjoy visiting the various Dante websites.”—International Review of Biblical Studies

“[This] fine book reflects the author’s admirable scholarship and will find its rightful place among those thoughtful and thought-provoking volumes that engage readers and make them consider the benefits that come from a reading and understanding of the whole, interrelated body of an author’s works. Dante certainly expected that of his readers, and we are well rewarded by such a critical approach.”—Christopher Kleinhenz, Sixteenth Century Journal

“The book is written with a light hand, in a quick, engaging style. . . . It synthesizes a distinguished career of deep engagement with Dante and his poem by a major scholar. In twenty-eight pages of crisply written endnotes and an extremely efficient two-page bibliographical note it also provides beginners with access to the critical issues generated by Dante’s poem.”—John Ahern, Speculum

“Hollander is now the doyen of Dante studies in America, so it comes as no surprise that this study is masterful, coherent, engaging, and completely reliable.”—Richard Lansing, Brandeis University

Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2001
ISBN: 9780300212594
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
240 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4