Dante and the Night Journey articulates a psychological approach to the Commedia, based on the Jungian concept of the descent into the darkest possibilities of the self and of human nature, which is necessary for spiritual progress. Different chapters explore Dante's growth in the problematic areas of love, anger, and ambition, and draw analogies between his journey through purgatory and contemporary experiences of recovery. The last chapter, "Identity in Paradise," examines telepathic communication there in the light of Object Relations work on inter subjectivity. The book emphasizes Dante's universality, and takes issue with the tendency among professional dantisti to read him exclusively in terms of the theology of his time. I think it will be of particular use to those who teach Dante to undergraduates, allowing students to connect their reading with their own lives. My hope is that the personal side of the book will also speak to those who have undergone their own night journeys, or embarked on a spiritual path.
Alan Williamson is the author of numerous books of poetry, literary criticism, and translation. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.