What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love
When you lose your whole world in a moment, where do you turn?
On a cold November morning, Joseph Luzzi, a Dante scholar and professor at Bard College, found himself racing to the hospital—his wife, Katherine, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, had been in a horrible car accident. In one terrible instant, Luzzi became both a widower and a first-time father.
In the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy, Luzzi relied on the support of his Italian immigrant family, returning to his childhood home to grieve and care for his infant daughter. But it wasn’t until he turned to The Divine Comedy—a poem he had devoted his life to studying and teaching—that he learned how to resurrect his life.
Following the same structure as Dante’s epic poem, Luzzi is shepherded out of his own “dark wood,” passing through the grief-stricken Inferno, the Purgatory of healing, and ultimately stepping into the Paradise of rediscovered love.
Beautifully written, poignant, insightful, and unflinchingly honest, In a Dark Wood is a hybrid of heartrending memoir and a meditation on the power of great art to give us strength in our darkest moments. Drawing us into hell and back, it is Dante’s journey, Joseph Luzzi’s, and our very own.
Purchase this title: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“A forthright chronicle of emergence from darkness.”
“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
“Luzzi honestly grapples with profound questions about being a man and father in this very literary and very personal work.”
“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.”
“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