The Bible is not only the book that lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian religion; it is also an endless source of tales and images that have profoundly influenced Western art. Poets, novelists and painters have recurrently sought inspiration from the Bible, often making (consciously or not) their work an echo of those stories. In short, such artists have re-written the Scriptures. Just as in his successful The Shadow of Ulysses: Figures of a Myth (Oxford University Press, 1994), which dealt with the reincarnations of the Homeric hero throughout centuries of European literature, in this new book Piero Boitani traces the re-emergence of the Word in a variety of distant and diverse authors: from Dante to Saramago, from Shakespeare to Faulkner, from Milton to Thomas Mann. Boitani leads his readers on an on-going, exuberant journey, which began over twenty years ago with The Bible and Its Rewritings (Oxford University Press, 1999) and then moved forward with The Gospel According to Shakespeare (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013). This new volume integrates The Bible and Its Rewritings essays in a much broader collection and proves that our cultural tradition can still produce surprising insights when it is explored in original ways.
Piero Boitani is professor emeritus of Comparative Literature at the Sapienza University in Rome.