Dante is unequalled among poets in conveying an extraordinary intensity of thought and experience, but this very power may make his work seem formidable to approach
Charles Williams's Figure of Beatriceis outstanding amongst Dante scholarship and criticism for the sympathetic enthusiasm and clarity with which he eases that approach without simplifying the achievement in a highly personal introduction to Dante's work. The first half of the book traces the way in which the central image of Beatrice, representing transcendent beauty in feminine form, animates Dante's earlier works. The second half richly expounds The Divine Comedy, meditating on its significance in Dantesque terms. Williams foreshadows the valuable modern emphasis on Dante as philosopher-poet; he also touches on many later concerns in Dante criticism, including ambiguities of language, the inherent self-contradiction of all powerful discourse, and the place of the feminine. The Figure of Beatrice is also a moving and poetic work in its own rightCHARLES WILLIAMS(1886-1945) is known to many as a prolific and unusual playwright, novelist and critic; his poetic works include Taliessin through Logres' and The Region of the Summer Stars'.