When Dante Alighieri died in Ravenna in September of 1321, he probably hoped to rest his bones for a good long time. A hard life of writing and factious Italian politics had culminated in nearly two decades of exile away from his birthplace in Florence, and it was in exile that he completed his greatest work, an epic of over 14,000 lines he called his Comedy. The poet’s remains did slumber quietly for two centuries in their stone tomb in Ravenna. But starting with the Renaissance, Dante’s mortal coil would find itself at the center of cloak and dagger plots, thefts, and the earthquake turmoil of Italian nation-building. Guy P. Raffa’s latest book, Dante’s Bones: How a Poet Invented Italy, tells us the story of Dante’s “graveyard history,” and shows how the Florentine poet’s dead body became a focal point for an emerging Italy. If the God of Genesis created man and woman out of the dust of the earth, Raffa’s book argues that modern Italy fashioned itself—in part—out of the dust of its greatest writer.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor