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This review is taken from PN Review 218, Volume 40 Number 6, July - August 2014.

Dante and the Page-Turner   deborah parker and mark parker, Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown (Palgrave Macmillan) $22

T.S. Eliot praised Dante for the way in which he exemplified one of the quintessential functions of poetry, that of ‘trying to realize ideas’ in ‘clear visual images’. In depicting Hell in all its concrete detail Dante made visible that which until then had not been seen, at least not with such clarity and exhaustiveness, as testified by thousands of medieval and post-medieval depictions of Hell which have their roots in Dante, from Hieronymus Bosch to Gustave Doré. As a poet, Dante made things visible in language, and his vision was enabled by his precise creative employment of language and form. In terza rima, which reaches its apotheosis in Dante, the poet finds the perfect form of unfolding, whereby layer after layer of Hell is peeled back and laid bare for the reader, taking us ever closer to the centre. When Dante’s sense is melodious, the words sing sweetly, as in the Dolce Stil Novo; when we are in the deepest regions of Hell, the sense of crushing weight and suffocation is embodied in the very density of the language.

Deborah and Mark Parker’s Inferno Revealed offers the reader of Dan Brown an introduction to the work of Dante and his influence, as well as a detailed analysis of Dante’s presence in Brown’s own Inferno. It is a lucid and meticulously researched book, and it offers many luminous insights into the world of Dante. Among other things, the authors speculate that it is the gaps in Dante – such as the ...

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