In a Dark Wood

What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love

by Joseph Luzzi

On Sale: 06/02/2015

In a Dark Wood

What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love

by Joseph Luzzi

On Sale: 06/02/2015


About the Book

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.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“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, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story

“An engrossing struggle to build a life after enormous personal loss and the luminous power of literature to transform sorrow’s exile into a kind of blessing.” - New York Journal of Books

“A heartfelt memoir…[Luzzi’s] is a quest so universal that we can all fin ourselves in his struggle.” - Christian Science Monitor

“This is not an academic book about Dante. It’s an elegant and moving memoir of one man’s journey through grief and finally back to life.” - Albany Times Union

“Luzzi’s new memoir transforms unthinkable tragedy into literary gold. More than simply a memoir of mourning, In a Dark Wood testifies to the life-giving importance of literature and what it has to teach us.” -

“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

“Heartbreaking. Heartrending. Heart-stopping.” - Vanity Fair

“Luzzi’s story is intensely personal, but holds universal appeal for anyone who has experienced love and loss. As he grasps blindly for routes out of his personal underworld, both he and the reader discover that only a change of mind and heart can open the way to love and fulfillment.” - Booklist

“Luzzi honestly grapples with profound questions about being a man and father in this very literary and very personal work.” - Publishers Weekly

“A forthright chronicle of emergence from darkness.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Heartfelt memoir… [told with] raw and unguarded candor.” - New York Times Book Review

“…achingly beautiful… - Entertainment Weekly

“Luzzi has written a memoir that is at once inspiring and fascinating. Beautifully written, with humor as well as depth, this book is a must for all serious readers.” - Hudson Valley News

“You say you’ve not read The Divine Comedy…. It doesn’t matter. Luzzi writes with the economy and flair of a novelist…[and] makes it all personal when he twines his historical analysis…with his own dark emotional terrain.” - Chronogram

“In his memoir...Luzzi adopts Dante’s journey as his own. He writes about the long, difficult path through the hell of grief in search of healing, [exploring] the power that Dante’s poetry still holds for modern audiences.” - The Thread, MPR News

“Compelling” - Providence Journal

“The book soared when Luzzi used Dante’s words to explain how grief made him feel.” - Salon

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062357519
  • ISBN 10: 0062357514
  • Imprint: Harper Wave
  • On Sale: 06/02/2015
  • Pages: 320
  • List Price:31.99 CAD

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