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14 - Transmission History

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

This chapter surveys the history of editorial engagement with the text of the Commedia, from the earliest times immediately following Dante’s death in 1321 up to the present day. Some 800 copies of the poem survive in manuscript form; since 1472 there have been hundreds of printed editions. Against a broad overview of the transmission history of the poem, the author highlights the inherent difficulties of working with a rich manuscript tradition; illustrates scribal contaminatory practices with concrete examples; and outlines the linguistic situation in Italy in Dante’s time, a key problem for an editor of his poem. She analyses the efforts of fourteenth-century editors (pre-eminent among them Giovanni Boccaccio and Filippo Villani), confronted with the task of producing a reliable text of the poem relying only on their own knowledge and literary sensitivity, with no established methodology to guide them; and the achievements of scholars in the last one hundred and fifty years, as philologists have developed and refined the stemmatic or genealogical method. The editions of Casella, Vandelli, Petrocchi, Lanza and Sanguineti are analysed in this context. The chapter concludes with a brief account of the latest endeavours in what remains an intensely productive field of Dante scholarship.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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