, by Dante Alighieri
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Dante’s Paradiso, often thrown into shadow by the first two parts of The Divine Comedy, features one of the most sublime, luminous, and exciting visions in all of literaturethat of Heaven itself.
Having climbed the mountain of Purgatory, Dante begins to ascend to the heights of the universe with his beloved Beatrice as guide. They soar through the nine spheres of heaventhe moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the stars, and the Prime Mover. Along the way Dante meets people he knew on Earth, who now appear as dazzling jewels, and many others whom he had always wanted to meet, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Saint Bonaventure, and his great-great-grandfather. Finally, Dante reaches Heaven, where incredibly beautiful scenesbrilliant lights and colors, and flowering gardens unfold before his eyes, always accompanied by celestial music. Heaven, he learns, is not a place of boring rest, but one of joyful activity, dancing and singing, and endless movement and surprises.
A poem of true heroic fulfillment, Paradiso stands as literature’s greatest hymn to the glory of God.
Peter Bondanella is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian at Indiana University. Julia Conaway Bondanella is Professor of Italian at Indiana University. Both have translated works from Italian and have published extensively on Italian culture and art.