In Italy, Dante is known as il sommo poeta (‘the supreme poet’). Ironically, such reverence obscures the creative personality. We know Dante responded to the shock of being exiled from Florence in 1302 by writing a visionary poem of hell, purgatory, and paradise, in which his tormented life and feuding world were set right – but why did he do it? With little biographical evidence and no original manuscripts of the Commedia surviving, most translators and commentators prefer to concentrate on Dante’s myriad historical and theological sources. It takes a simple shift of logic to search them for the missing psychological evidence.
How would we have viewed the seven hundredth anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death if there had been no Covid-19? The editors of Divining Dante are candid about their fears that the pandemic might narrow their celebratory anthology to poems of doom and disaster. After all, the cosmic system of Dante’s Comedy is one of the few fictional creations to match the scale and reach of the pandemic. Dante’s souls are aware of their insignificance among millions, but their pain or bliss is unique and absolutely meaningful. Punishments or blessings are matched to their deeds; character is fate. Today we, too, are confined to private places and must face whatever we find there. The times suit that side of Dante.
With its finely honed critical readings and ‘transversal connections’, The Oxford Handbook of Dante is a timely and masterful collection of forty-four chapters presenting contemporary critical insights from a broad choice of intellectual fields that range from Italian and European perspectives to Anglo-American approaches. Highlighting Dante’s expansive outreach over the centuries, the editors, Manuele Gragnolati, Elena Lombardi, and Francesca Southerden, have assembled an impressive array of scholarly voices whose contributions offer a robust critical collection not exclusively intended for specialist readers.
This sumptuous volume by Marco Santagata, professor of Italian Literature at the University of Pisa, offers the reader a richly documented and often gripping account of the development, peregrinations, and shifting fortunes of the celebrated poet Durante (Dante) Alighieri. Comprising ten chapters, the volume has an internal division in two parts, with the first cove ...
During a visit to Adelaide in 2013 as a keynote speaker at the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies ‘Re-imagining Italian Studies’ conference, Professor Martin McLaughlin (Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian Studies and Fellow of Magdalen College) made the following observation about Clive James’s translation of The Divine Comedy