Cantilena for Seven Voices: Dante’s Women Speak

The women in Dante's life and poetry speak to you from the distant 13th century.

Cantilena is a novella-length collection of vignettes, character sketches, and reminiscences in which seven Florentine women look back on their lives and talk about them. Some are speaking from the afterlife, others from late in their earthly lives. Some predeceased Dante and some outlived him, but all figured in some way in his life or his works. Think Thornton Wilder meets Dante. An introduction to Florence circa 1300 describes the city these women lived in, and historical notes at the end clarify what is fact-based and what is fictional. In addition to speaking of their lives, the women tell us what they think of Dante – a rare opportunity for the poet’s subjects to talk back.

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