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About the book
  • Published: 15 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781681370514
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 136
  • RRP: $24.99

The New Life


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The New Life is the masterpiece of Dante Alighieri’s youth, an account of his love for Beatrice, the girl who was to become his lifelong muse, and of her tragic early death. An allegory of the soul’s crisis and growth, combining prose and poetry, narrative and meditation, dreams and songs and prayers, this work of crystalline beauty and fascinating complexity has long taken its place as one of the supreme revelations in the literature of love.

Published here in the beautiful translation by the nineteenth-century English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The New Life is an inspired poetic re-creation comparable to Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a classic in its own right.

  • Pub date: 15 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781681370514
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 136
  • RRP: $24.99

About the Author

Dante Alighieri

Date: 2013-08-06
Dante, or Durante deli Alighieri, was born in Florence, Italy, circa 1265. His family was connected with the Guelph political alliance, supporters of the Papacy. His mother died before Dante’s tenth birthday. Dante himself was betrothed to Gemma di Manetto Donati when he was aged only 12. The pair went on to marry, but Dante’s true love was for Beatrice Portinari, who would inspire much of his poetry. Dante and Gemma had several children.
Dante was a member of Florence’s Apothecaries’ Guild, though he did not practice as a pharmacist. Allied to the White Guelphs, with whom he fought against the vanquishing Black Guelphs, he was eventually condemned to perpetual exile from Florence. He went first to Verona and then to Liguria. There is speculation that he travelled more widely, including to Paris and Oxford, although this has not been verified.
During his time of exile Dante conceived and wrote the three poems which form The Divine Comedy. He died in 1321, aged 56, of suspected malaria. He was buried in Ravenna, Italy, where a tomb was later erected in his name.

Stephen Wyatt is a playwright and dramatist with extensive experience in stage, radio and television.

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family.  He followed a normal course of studies, possibly attending university in Bologna, and when he was about twenty he married Gemma Donati, by whom he had several children.  He had first met Bice Portinati, whom he called Beatrice, in 1274, and when she died in 1290, he sought distraction by studying philosophy and theology and by writing La Vita Nuova. 

During this time he became involved in the strife between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines; he became a prominent White Guelf, and when the Black Guelfs came to power in 1302, Dante, during an absence from Florence, was condemned to exile.  He took refuge first in Verona, and after wandering from place to place - as far as Paris and even, some have said, to Oxford - he settled in Ravenna.  While there he completed The Divine Comedy, which he began in about 1308.  Dante died in Ravenna in 1321.

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Praise for The New Life

““Rossetti made a remarkable translation of the Vita Nuova, in some places improving (or at least enriching) the original. He was indubitably the man ‘sent,’ or ‘chosen,’ for that particular job.” —Ezra Pound   “[Rossetti’s translation is] the fruit of countless hours of brooding over Italian painting, Italian images, Italian sounds and thoughts.” —John Wain”


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