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Dante is one of the towering figures in world literature, and yet many riddles and questions about his life and work persist. In the first full-length biography of him in more than twenty years, Barbara Reynolds offers provocative new ideas in every chapter. For example, many have read the Commedia as a lyrical parable about reward and punishment; Reynolds suggests that Dante was arguing against the Pope and for an Emperor as supreme secular authority of medieval Europe. Drawing from an impressive array of sources, Reynolds delivers a comprehensive analysis of the poet, placing him within the context of his culture and society to deepen our understanding of a complicated man who was irritable, opinionated, vengeful, and an extraordinary genius.