Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 26, 2015)
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante's Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning'a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.
Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy: "In the middle of our life?s journey, I found myself in a dark wood."
When Luzzi's pregnant wife was in a car accident - and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter, Isabel - he finds himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieves and cares for his infant daughter, . miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turns to Dante's Divine Comedy for solace.
In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helps the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the Inferno of his grief, the Purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then Paradise of the rediscovery of love.
A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn't realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante's epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi's book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man's descent into hell and back: it is Dante's journey, Joseph Luzzi's, and our very own.
The title of the book alone was enough to intrigue me and and naturally I was anxious for the chance to participate in the blog tour. The title: In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love -- enough said. This pretty amazing title promised (and delivered) an example of the exact thing I have been describing to my kids for years -- an example of how literature can help us work though some of life's most difficult and tragic moments.
Joseph Luzzi is a professor of Italian and a Dante scholar and his passion for his subject is evident throughout the book. I really love it when a scholar/writer is able to convey their own passion about an author or piece of literature in such a way that it makes me want to read/study that work as well. It has been years since I actually attempted to read Dante, but I think it will be added to my reading list again.
In a Dark Wood is a deeply sad and in places gut-wrenching examination of grief and sorrow and the process of coping and healing. The almost unfathomable tragedy of his pregnant wife's death, and the birth of his daughter at almost the exact same time was heart breaking to read about. Any reader will understand the overwhelming emotions of grief, anger, confusion, insecurity and probably twenty other emotions that would follow such a tragedy. The beauty of the book, for me, was how well the process of coping and healing was described in relation to The Divine Comedy. I was actually pretty surprised at how well the process of grief correlates with the epic poem - although, I probably shouldn't have been surprised. I appreciated the depth of knowledge and insight that Luzzi reveals as he works through the Dark Wood.
This memoir is pretty heavy - both in emotion and depth of information - but well worth the time and effort. But there is also humor and so much family love and family history and stories told and retold. I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be recommending it to my friends - especially those who are serious readers.
About Joseph LuzziJoseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review?Editors' Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement. Find out more about Joseph at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Joseph’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, May 27th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 28th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, June 3rd: Tina Says …
Friday, June 5th: Imaginary Reads
Monday, June 8th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 9th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, June 10th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Sunday, June 13th: Create With Joy
Monday, June 15th: Buried in Print
Tuesday, June 16th: From L.A. to LA
Wednesday, June 17th: Jancee Reads
Thursday, June 18th: A Dream Within a Dream
Friday, June 19th: Belle’s Beautiful Books
Monday, June 22nd: Emerald City Book Review