Friday, February 21, 2014

Review of Inferno Revealed

Book #5. Inferno Revealed, by Deborah Parker and Mark Parker. Hardcover.

As an academic, I appreciate any time academics write a book for a non-academic audience. And I have no issue with them "taking advantage" of Brown's latest novel (Inferno, reviewed here) to sell their book -- I say, strike while the iron is hot.

The Parkers are professors of Italian and English, and their joint expertise works well for purposes of this work. They analyze Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, in particular), distilling the essence of the epic in language understandable by laymen. In addition to Brow's novel, I have also read Dante's work.

Most of the book explores the literary and artistic works that have been influenced by Dante's great epic. They include both "high" and "low" literature that has been influenced by Inferno. In these early chapters, there are a few references to Dan Brown's latest novel, but the emphasis is on other works, including the movies Se7en and Beetlejuice.

The final chapter does consist of a detailed analysis of Brown's novel, in terms of both the structure and the specific references. For those unaware, the plot of Brown's novel involves clues and secrets that arise from the poem and Botticelli's artistic rendering of the Dante's version of Hell.

The authors do not make the claim that Brown's novel is high art, but they give him credit for including thematic and structural elements clearly drawn from the epic. He may not have understood all the nuances of the work, and taken a few liberties along the way, but he clearly read Dante's work closely, and did his best to replicate certain aspects of the original.

Source: From the publisher, as part of the LibraryThing early review program.

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