I could ask the same question of you. How do you know it was just
Eliot's interest and not that Eliot also took up an interest others had
expressed. It would take research to find out. Anyway, as of today, I
think "popular" may not apply. For both, it is largely academics,
students, and serious readers who really care about either. (Except in
Italy I think, where people know about Dante and even know Dante--but
that is not based on any statistics, just anecdote.)

We know that Eliot always was attracted to Dante and carried Dante or
Virgil around with him all the time. And he wrote first about Dante in
1920. But he was introduced early and others, like Pound, also were
seriously interested in Dante. I would be interested in knowing just
when and how Eliot took up the idea of writing about Dante--and not
being the first. When young, by his own account, he preferred the
"world" of Virgil. But I have the major book here by an Italian scholar
on Eliot and Dante, so I'll see what that tells me. 

Random ideas without research tell us nothing of value. So do you know?
And how? A history of Dante reception would seem to be the only real
source that could tell us.

>>> P 01/05/13 8:16 PM >>>
Not all things are measured by books.
What would the popular awareness of Dante and the academic interest in
him be without TWL?
P. M. 

Nancy Gish wrote:

Not likely: here are only three of many books on Dante in the early 20th
century published before Eliot's essays. There are more and easy to find
in Google. 

The Poetry of Dante

Benedetto Croce
Douglas Ainslie

Henry Holt and Company 1922 
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321--Criticism and Interpretation

Read now

...pres-ence of God. It has been said of Dante"Paradiso," that it should
not have...expressive ofaspiration for I know not what of divine and
in­tangible, a saying which...fear andhope, of distress and joy. But
Dante, when hecomposed the "Divine Comedy," was not inthis narrow
condition of... 

Dante, How to Know Him 
Alfred M. Brooks

Bobbs-Merrill 1916 
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321--Criticism and Interpretation

Read now 
...forever. This, in brief, is the system onwhich Dante represents God
as dealing with man­kind...well as the greatest.TWO WAYS OF READING THE
DIVINE COMEDYIn The Divine Comedy Dante relates an imagina­tive
experience, but... 

Dante & Aquinas 
Philip H. Wicksteed

J. M. Dent & Sons 1913 
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321
Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
Philosophy, Medieval

Read now 
...particularcase it is), more happy than in Dante's treatmentof what he
regards as the...namely, of the humanwill.Aquinas and Dante are equally
emphatic in theirinsistence...are impossible, and thevery idea of divine
justice perishes.Many passages in the "Comedy" will occur tothe reader's
mind in which Dante dwells upon this

>>> P 01/04/13 10:24 PM >>>
Could it be said that Eliot, Virgil-like, led Dante into the 20th
P. M.

Chokh Raj wrote:

The Poet in Transformation: Dantean Aesthetics in T.S. Eliot's The Waste
Land (2012)

By Jamie Berlin


Dante was a seminal influence in T. S. Eliot’s poetry. Many scholars
have acknowledged Eliot’s professed debt to Dante and have examined
Eliot’s explicit imitations of Dante; however, few have pinpointed
Dantean influences in non-explicit references to Dante, and few have
credited the influence of a Dantean progress narrative across Eliot’s
poem The Waste Land. This thesis broadly analyzes the principles of
Dante’s aesthetic in the poem while analyzing the Sibyl, the Hanged Man,
and the Prajapati parable for their relevance to Eliot’s aesthetic
theory. When Dantean aesthetics and close readings of The Waste Land are
compared with Eliot’s contemporary essays on art, a fuller view of the
aspects of Dante’s fundamental influence emerges. In pthe nature of their shared aesthetic—that art is a moral work by virtue
of a spiritual transformation endured by the artist, which involves both
a sacrifice of self and a substantiation of self. A deeper examination
of Dante’s influence on T. S. Eliot yields a vaster understanding of
Eliot’s aesthetics while helping to elucidate one of the central
mysteries in Eliot’s theory of art, the role of “personality.”