Guy Raffa

Aug 21, 2020

Dante’s Bones

How a Poet Invented Italy

Belknap Press 2020

On this episode of New Books in History, Jana Byars talks with Guy Raffa, Associate Professor of Italian Studies at UT Austin, about his new book, Dante’s Bones: How a Poet Invented Italy (Harvard University Press, 2020).

Dante’s Bones is an academic mystery story, the “graveyard history” of Dante Alighieri, the master poet of what has come to be called The Divine Comedy. This book is about Dante’s literal remains and the where and how they’ve been kept.

But in tracing that story, Guy Raffa tells a much broader tale about what Dante comes to mean over the past 700 years. Interview topics include thieving Franciscans, Lord Byron, Mussolini, and Longfellow, as we consider Dante the father of Italy and the Italian language, Dante the liberator, and Dante the secular saint. Discussion covers the author’s personal digital accompaniment to the Comedy, Danteworlds.

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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