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The secrets of Dante’s marriage

Dante’s wife Gemma was not the shrew of legend, and may even have been the recipient of one of his most moving Canzone, according to Marco Santagata’s indispensible biography of the poet

21 May 2016

9:00 AM

21 May 2016

9:00 AM

Dante: The Story of His Life Marco Santagata

The Belknap Press, pp.485, £25, ISBN: 9780674504868

Unlike Shakespeare, who kept himself out of all his works, except the Sonnets, Dante was endlessly reworking his autobiography, even when supposedly writing on politics or arranging love poems to his dream-women. The core of this new book about him can be found in a sentence following Dante’s banishment from Florence, and his setting out as a poverty-stricken exile, deprived of all power, separated from his wife and family and stripped of his wealth.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £21.00. Tel: 08430 600033. A.N. Wilson is a former literary editor of The Spectator; his many books include Dante in Love.

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