In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love

By Joseph Luzzi

A story of love and grief. ‘I became a widower and a father on the same day’ says Joseph Luzzi. His book tells how Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’ helped him to endure his grief, raise their infant daughter, and rediscover love.

When you lose your whole world in a moment, where do you turn? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in Dante’s opening of The Divine Comedy: ‘In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.’

One cold November morning, Luzzi, a professor and Dante scholar, was told his pregnant wife Katherine had been in a car accident. She did not survive, but their daughter Isabel did, delivered by emergency Caesarean a mere forty-five minutes before her mother died. In one terrible instant, Luzzi found himself both a widower and a father.

In the aftermath of an unthinkable tragedy, Luzzi turned to the support of his Italian immigrant family but it wasn’t until he turned to Dante’s epic poem – a poem he had devoted his life to studying and teaching – that he found a way to resurrect his life. Following the same structure as Dante’s epic poem, Luzzi is shepherded out of his own ‘dark wood,’ passing through the grief-stricken Inferno, the Purgatory of healing and learning to be a father to Isabel, and ultimately stepping into the Paradise of rediscovered love.

A meditation on the influence of great art and power to give us strength in our darkest moments, ‘In a Dark Wood’ opens the door into the mysteries of Dante’s enduring classic. Beautifully written, poignant and unflinchingly honest, Luzzi’s book is a hybrid of heartrending memoir and meaningful insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all history. Drawing us into man’s descent into hell and back, it is Dante’s journey, Luzzi’s and our very own.

Format: ebook
Release Date: 02 Jun 2015
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-810064-3
Joseph Luzzi, age 46 and the first American born child in his Italian family, holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of ‘My Two Italies’ and ‘Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy’, which won the Scaglione Prize for ItalianStudies from the Modern Language Association. An active critic, his essays and reviews have appeared in The New YorkTimes, The Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and The Times Literary Supplement. Dante has been the focus of his teachingand writing for over twenty years, and he is a former Council Member of the Dante Society of America, founded in 1881 byDante’s first American translator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. www. @LuzziJoseph

”'Powerful and indispensable, Joseph Luzzi unites emotion and ideas in a work that defies categorization, except for the category marked 'brilliant.' If every academic wrote like this, the humanities would be prospering” - Gary Shteyngart

‘‘In a Dark Wood’ charts Luzzi’s journey through the hell of mourning and the purgatory of recovery, juxtaposing diapers and dating with demons and the damned … there are many shrewd observations’ Financial Times -

”'Like Dante’s epic poem, Luzzi’s narrative moves structurally through the stages of the Underworld, from Hell into Paradise … Luzzi honestly grapples with profound questions about being a man and father in this very literary and very personal work” - Publishers Weekly

‘Joseph Luzzi lived through something terrible, and has made something beautiful. ‘In a Dark Wood’ is a memoir of love and loss; but more than that, it is a powerful testimony to the consolation - even salvation - that an engagement with great literature can supply’ Rebecca Mead, author of ‘My Life in Middlemarch’ -

”'Reads hell in a new light” - Vanity Fair