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Dante’s Divine Comedy

Dante’s Divine Comedy

A Guide for the Spiritual Journey

By Mark Vernon

462 pp

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About the Book

Dante Alighieri was early in recognizing that our age has a problem. His hometown, Florence, was at the epicenter of the move from the medieval world to the modern. He realized that awareness of divine reality was shifting, and that if it were lost, dire consequences would follow. The Divine Comedy was born in a time of troubling transition, which is why it still speaks today.

Dante’s masterpiece presents a cosmic vision of reality, which he  invites his readers to traverse with him. In this narrative retelling and guide, from the gates of hell, up the mountain of purgatory, to the empyrean of paradise, Mark Vernon offers a vivid introduction and interpretation of a book that, 700 years on, continues to open minds and change lives.


“Just as Dante had Virgil, we have Mark Vernon: the perfect guide to Dante’s epic and fantastic journey. This is not just a description of what happens and who we meet, it’s an invitation to read The Divine Comedy as a way to change our own consciousness and embrace a more spacious reality: everything is bigger on the inside. I started highlighting sentences I wanted to think about, but ended up with yellow stripes everywhere: there are insights on every page. A marvelous book that blew away a lot of my assumptions about The Divine Comedy.”


author of Piranesi and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell


"There has long been need for a scholarly but deft guide to Dante’s masterpiece, not just as a literary curiosity but as a profound examination of the meaning of life in a world less material than ours. Here at last is one for which we can be grateful. Like Virgil guiding Dante, Vernon accompanies the reader on the fascinating journey from hell through purgatory to paradise; he is a delightful companion, and I for one learnt a great deal from the experience.”


author of The Master and His Emissary


“As late modern readers and writers, we live at an unfortunate remove from much of the greatest literature of earlier epochs principally in thinking of it solely as literature, whose chief meaning and value can be exhaustively described in strictly critical categories. We scarcely remember how to see poetry—or any of the arts—as belonging to a fuller vision of reality, with spiritual as well as purely aesthetic dimensions. This is an unfortunate state of affairs in regard to any literary text of consequence, but in regard to a work of the magnitude and splendor of The Divine Comedy it is tragic. An approach like Mark Vernon’s is precisely the remedy required if one wants truly to see the poem for what it is, and to see through the poem to what it adumbrates.”


author of Roland in Moonlight


“Dante’s spiritual pilgrimage through hell, purgatory, then up through the seven heavens to a vision of the Mystic Rose is one of the masterpieces of human imagination. Mark Vernon guides us through the great poem, giving light, gathering insights from other commentators, granting us a sensitive, fresh perspective. Whether the Comedy is a familiar favorite or forbiddingly foreign, readers will here find companionship, nourishment, and assistance as they traverse the Dantean soul-scape.”


author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis


“Mark is a wise, warm, and humane guide through Dante's hell, purgatory, and paradise. His remarkable book reveals The Divine Comedy as a transformative reading experience, as urgent and relevant today as it was 700 years ago, perhaps even more so.”


Creative Editor, Penguin Classics

About the Author

MARK VERNON is a writer and psychotherapist who lives in London. His journalism has been published on both sides of the Atlantic, and his books—on subjects from love and friendship to the history of Christianity—have found readers from around the globe. He has a PhD in Ancient Greek philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. He works with the research group Perspectiva, which champions the place of soul in society, and the International Society for Science and Religion, which is currently

investigating spiritual intelligence.

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