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2 - Dante Alighieri, Dante-poet, Dante-character

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2018

Zygmunt G. Barański
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Simon Gilson
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

The Commedia is constructed as a first-person narrative, where the narrator and the character share a common identity that underpins an autobiographical structure. This chapter explores the relationships between the narrator, Dante the poet, and the protagonist, Dante the poet, as well as the autobiographical significance of these relationships and of other elements. It studies how Dante the poet interrupts his narrative through introductions, invocations, declarations of novelty, wonder, and ineffability. The Commedia also reveals how the protagonist became aware of the mission of becoming the divinely ordained author of a poem which recounts what has been revealed to him during his journey. Other important autobiographical elements are the post eventum prophecies related to Dante’s exile from Florence. Dante the character is also a poet and author of the Vita nova and other poems. During the journey, the pilgrim encounters many poets, writers, and other characters associated with literary activity. These meetings are used to reflect on the literary experience these figures embody as well as a rethinking of Dante’s own literary career. Another important aspect is the presence of biblical, classical, and medieval models underpinning the construction of the protagonist-poet.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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