Download Dante: The Divine Comedy, Student's Guide, 2nd edition by Robin Kirkpatrick PDF

By Robin Kirkpatrick

Robin Kirkpatrick addresses questions comparable to Dante's angle in the direction of Virgil, and demonstrates how the early paintings referred to as the Vita Nuova is a critical resource of the literary success of the Comedy. His unique learn unearths how the good narrative poem explores the connection that Dante believed to exist among God as writer of the universe and the individual as a production of God. First version Hb (1986): 0-521-32809-8 First variation Pb (1986): 0-521-30533-0

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But its influence upon subsequent poets (such as Petrarch, Nerval, Montale) has been as great as the influence of the Comedy itself; and it is to the Vita nuova we must look if we are to understand in practice what it first meant for Dante to be a storyteller and poet. Consider first how the prose narrative represents the changes that Dante undergoes in his approach to Beatrice. So far, I have spoken of these changes largely as a matter of growth and gradual refinement. That is not inaccurate. Yet Dante invariably describes the moment of advance as one of crisis and revelation; only under the impact of such moments is the underlying but hitherto unrealised growth brought into consciousness.

Is scarcely conceivable without the model of Cavalcanti’s fluent sonnet in praise of his Lady, ‘Chi e` questa che ven . ’. From Cavalcanti Dante would also have derived his interest – expressed in continual references to the trembling or disruption of ‘vital spirits’ – in the psychological conflicts which the mind of the lover experiences. Yet in the Vita nuova the main function of Cavalcanti is to provide a vocabulary for the ‘Mockery’ sonnet (analysed above) in which Dante reaches what he himself must have considered the nadir of stylistic inauthenticity and alienation from the truth: ‘changed into the figure of another’ (‘Con l’altre donne .

Though, later, Dante will quote both of the Donna Gentile poems (Purg. II 112 and Par. VIII 37), it is the prose of the Convivio which most clearly marks Dante’s advance – in both thought and expression – towards the Comedy. As for thought, the sheer delight in systematic rationalism which Dante first shows in the Convivio is entirely in keeping with his approach to God in the Comedy. ) But in expression, too, the Convivio goes far beyond anything Dante had achieved in his earlier writings. Consider for instance its treatment of factual detail.

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