Dante's "Other Works"
Assessments and Interpretations
474 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 2 b&w illustrations
- Published: May 2022
- ISBN: 9780268202392
- Published: May 2022
- ISBN: 9780268202385
- Published: May 2022
- ISBN: 9780268202378
Prominent Dante scholars from the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom contribute original essays to the first critical companion in English to Dante’s “other works.”
Rather than speak of Dante’s “minor works,” according to a tradition of Dante scholarship going back at least to the eighteenth century, this volume puts forward the designation “other works” both in light of their enhanced status and as part of a general effort to reaffirm their value as autonomous works. Indeed, had Dante never written the Commedia, he would still be considered the most important writer of the late Middle Ages for the originality and inventiveness of the other works he wrote besides his monumental poem, including the Rime, the Fiore, the Detto d’amore, the Vita nova, the Epistles, the Convivio, the De vulgari eloquentia, the Monarchia, the Egloge, and the Questio de aqua et terra. Each contributor to this volume addresses one of the “other works” by presenting the principal interpretative trends and questions relating to the text, and by focusing on aspects of particular interest. Two essays on the relationship between the “other works” and the issues of philosophy and theology are included. Dante’s “Other Works” will interest Dantisti, medievalists, and literary scholars at every stage of their career.
Contributors: Manuele Gragnolati, Christopher Kleinhenz, Zygmunt G. Barański, Claire E. Honess, Simon Gilson, Mirko Tavoni, Paola Nasti, Theodore J. Cachey, Jr., David G. Lummus, Luca Bianchi, and Vittorio Montemaggi.
List of illustrations
1. The Lyric Poetry - Manuele Gragnolati
2. Fiore and Detto d’Amore - Christopher Kleinhenz
3. Vita nova - Zygmunt G. Barański
4. Epistles - Claire E. Honess
5. Convivio - Simon Gilson
6. De vulgari eloquentia - Mirko Tavoni
7. Monarchia - Paola Nasti
8. Egloge - David Lummus
9. Questio de acqua et terra - Theodore J. Cachey Jr.
10. Philosophy and the ‘Other Works’ - Luca Bianchi
11. Theology and the ‘Other Works’ - Vittorio Montemaggi
List of contributors
“This highly stimulating, erudite, yet also accessible collection provides an absorbing survey of the full range of Dante’s ‘other works’ beyond the Commedia.”—J. Catherine Keen, co-editor of Ethics, Politics and Justice in Dante
“Dante’s ‘Other Works’ is altogether excellent, and it fills a much-lamented gap in the bibliography on Dante in English.” —Lino Pertile, co-editor of Dante in Context
“The essays are informative, text-centered, and devoid of the kind of tendentious critical theory that subordinates works of literature to contemporary ideology.” —Choice
“Dante’s “Other Works” is a wonderful exposition on the complexity of Europe’s greatest poet, the poet of Christendom but also a poet of the universal and syncretic. . . . Any lover of Dante would do well to pick up this volume.” —VoegelinView
What I would like to propose, in conclusion, is that, to give ourselves the richest opportunity for reflecting on the relationship between theology and the ‘other works,’ it is important that we consciously interpret these as moments of human encounter between ourselves and Dante. We might like the Dante we encounter or not. We might agree with his claims to be speaking for divinity or not. But unless we are open to encountering Dante as a fellow human being offering us his voice on a common journey towards an ever richer understanding of ourselves and the world we are part of, we close ourselves off from the theological heart—and art—of Dante’s writing.
One of the most important currents in Dante scholarship at the moment is the study of what is referred to as Dante’s intellectual formation. I would like to suggest that in order for us to engage with the theological significance of Dante’s work, study of Dante’s intellectual formation ought to be characterized in part by study of Dante’s conscious perception of himself as an author through whom truth speaks; and of the ways in which this perception is consciously presented in Dante’s engagement with Scripture and with Revelation more broadly. In their different ways, the ‘other works’ offer us a remarkable record of a human being attempting to live out—in as truthful a manner as he is capable of—his responsibility to aid other human beings on their journey. As proud or as humble as we might think Dante to be in thinking of himself in this way, our engagement with his work along these lines can be a fruitful experience. At the very least it will allow us to explore, consciously, critically, communally, our own understanding of our relationship with truth. We might or might not think of this explicitly as a theological, spiritual or salvific activity. But, on the interpretive terms I have tried to outline above, I believe Dante might suggest to us that, in any case, this is in essence, an activity that brings us closer to nothing other than truth itself. Be that as it may, reflecting on the relationship between theology and the ‘other works’ is significant both for what it can tell us about Dante and for what it can allow us to discover about ourselves.
Our overarching guide question was: To what extent and in what ways can the ‘other works’ be seen as manifestations of Dante’s (changing) understanding of human personhood—and therefore also human authorship—as having an essentially, and irreducibly, divine dimension? In the light of the various ways in which this question was addressed above, the open-ended interrogative I would like to end with is: What is at stake for us, as scholars and more generally, in responding to the various ways in which Dante’s ‘other works’ invite us to recognize an irreducibly divine dimension in Dante’s voice, and therefore also in our own? It is in this kind of question, I believe, that the significance of reflection on “Theology and the ‘Other Works’” ultimately lies.