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 <[log in to unmask]>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 <[log in to unmask]> 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
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
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 <[log in to unmask]>01/04/13 10:24 PM >>>
Could it be said that Eliot, Virgil-like, led Dante into the 20th Century?
P. M.

Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 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 particular, the prominence of Dante in the sub-text of Eliot’s The Waste Land reveals the 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.”