Having plunged to the uttermost depths of Hell and climbed the Mount of Purgatory in parts one and two of the Divine Comedy, Dante ascends to Heaven in this third and final part, continuing his soul's search for God, guided by his beloved Beatrice. As he progresses through the spheres of Paradise he grows in understanding, until he finally experiences divine love in the radiant presence of the deity. Examining eternal questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, Dante exercised all his learning and wit, wrath and tenderness in his creation of one of the greatest of all Christian allegories.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. He married Gemma Donati in his twenties and had four children. He met Beatrice, who was to be his muse, in 1274, and when she died in 1290 he sought distraction in philosophy and theology, and wrote La Vita Nuova. He worked on the Divine Comedy from 1308 until near the time of his death in Ravenna in 1321. Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin, and Cambridge where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.