New York: Sheed and Ward, 1948. First American edition. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Spine leaning, early gift inscription (dated April 1949) to free front endpaper, toning to spine and faint soiling to fore-edge of dust jacket. An excellent, near-fine copy. Item #407
"TO READ DANTE IS A JOY. TO WRITE ABOUT DANTE IS A PLEASURE FOR IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WRITE ABOUT HIM WITHOUT READING HIM AGAIN MORE CLOSELY" First American edition of Etienne Gilson's exploration of the philosophical and theological themes underlying Dante's body of work. Gilson attempts to "understand and interpret Dante's own thought--not to classify him as belonging to some particular school" but Aristotle, Averroes, Bonaventure, and Aquinas are all cited frequently with Augustine, Dominic, and Francis following close behind. Gilson's short Preface acknowledges the problems inherent in adding another current to the vast ocean of Dante studies and discusses the pitfalls of trying to go it alone: "No one who discusses Dante can do so without remembering what distinguished expositors have said before him." Gilson leans heavily on Father Mandonnet's Dante the Theologian. The text consists of several sections: I. Dante's Clerical Vocation and Metamorphoses of Beatrice, II. Philosophy in the Banquet, III. Philosophy in the Monarchy, IV. Philosophy in the Divine Comedy, Eclaircissements. Also includes two Indexes: Index of Proper Names and Index of the Principal Questions Discussed.
Gilson's exploration of Dante was not without controversy. The American Dante Bibliography for 1954 includes a citation for I. J. Semper's "Was Dante a Sensualist?" (an essay published in Catholic World) where Semper "Refutes the charge of homosexuality laid on Dante by Gilson and also the imputation of licentiousness originating with Boccaccio." The publisher's copy on the flap of the dust jacket seems to acknowledge the issue: "To clear the ground for his examination of Dante's philosophy in the Convivio, the De Monarchia and the Divina Commedia, he deals vigorously and entertainingly with the theories advanced by some critics of a purely allegorical Beatrice." Translated by David Moore. Rare in dust jacket. An excellent addition to a Dante collection.