In a Dark Wood

In a Dark Wood
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.”
Kirkus Reviews

“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.”
Publishers Weekly

“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

4 thoughts on “In a Dark Wood

  1. Dear Joseph,
    I am a sister of the late John Turco and wanted to tell you that I understand through my sister Anne and Mom what a great friend you were to John. My Mother told me about you books and I commend you for going on with your life so courageously after such a tragic loss. Thank God for family and friends and what ever makes our journey through this life livable again. My best to you and your family. Keep up the good work and maybe I too will get to meet you and talk with you.
    Sincerely, Mary Turco

  2. Pingback: The Marilu Henner Show – Friday July 24th 2015 | The Marilu Henner Show – Call In During Show Hours @ 1-844-4-HENNER

  3. Pingback: Writing Trauma: Notes of Transcendence, #2–The Book as Companion

  4. Hello Joseph
    I just found an article i’d kept from the English newspaper “The Guardian” 3 years ago, about your experience of losing Katherine and the solace you found in your reading of Dante. It touched me as I still struggle at times with the loss of my son (22 years ago). Coincidentally (or not!) I’m now studying Italian with the local branch of the Dante Alighieri cultural association here in Montauban (SW France). I look forward to reading your work. Thank you and all best wishes to you and your family. Janet

Leave a Reply to Mary Turco Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s