Paradiso, the conclusion to Dante Alighieri's masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, is an exploration of the nine celestial spheres of Heaven. A highly original and comprehensive reading, The Poetics of Dante's Paradiso challenges established scholarly interpretations to demonstrate that the intricacies of Dante's text reveal a subtle irony, employed to deliver a sharp critique of the corrupt church and empire of his own time. Massimo Verdicchio's canto-by-canto analysis focuses on the subversive undercurrents created by poetic allegory and irony and relates Dante's ordering of the heavens to the Arts and Sciences of the Trivium and Quadrivium (the major subjects taught at medieval universities). This new reading highlights Dante's use of language to expose the earthly flaws of the saints and deunce the illicit and destructive alliance between the House of Anjou and the church. The Poetics of Dante's Paradiso is thought-provoking, tenacious, and sure to stimulate discussion amongst all students of the Commedia.
Massimo Verdicchio is a professor of Italian and Comparative Literature in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta.