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Extended Audio Sample In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me about Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, by Joseph Luzzi Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joseph Luzzi Narrator: Rick Adamso Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante’s Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning—a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.

Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy: “In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.”

When Luzzi’s pregnant wife was in a car accident—and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter Isabel—he found himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieved and cared for his infant daughter, miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turned to Dante’s Divine Comedy for solace.

In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helped the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the inferno of his grief, the purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then paradise of the rediscovery of love.

A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn’t realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante’s epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi’s book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man’s descent into hell and back: it is Dante’s journey, Joseph Luzzi’s, and our very own.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Heartbreaking. Heartrending. Heart-stopping.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “An engrossing struggle to build a life after enormous personal loss and the luminous power of literature to transform sorrow’s exile into a kind of blessing.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “Luzzi honestly grapples with profound questions about being a man and father in this very literary and very personal work.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Luzzi’s new memoir transforms unthinkable tragedy into literary gold. More than simply a memoir of mourning, In a Dark Wood testifies to the life-giving importance of literature and what it has to teach us.”


  • An Entertainment Weekly “Must Read”, a Brainy & Brilliant Beach Book
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About the Author

Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard College. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.