For over seven centuries, Dante and his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, have held a special place in Western culture. The poem is at once a vivid journey through hell to heaven, a poignant love story, and a picture of humanity s relationship to God. It is so richly imaginative that a first reading can be bewildering. In response, Peter Hawkins has written an inspiring introduction to the poet, his greatest work, and its abiding influence. His knowledge of Dante and enthusiasm for his vision make him an expert guide for the willing reader.