Dante's Comedy is a puzzling poem because the author wanted to lead his readers to understanding by engaging their curiosity. While many obscure matters are clarified in the course of the poem itself, others have remained enigmas that have fascinated Dantists for centuries. Over the last thirty-five years, Richard Kay has proposed original solutions to many of these puzzles; these are collected in the present volume. Historical context frames Kay's readings, which relate the poem to such standard sources as the Bible, Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Latin classics, but he also goes beyond these Scholastic sources to exploit Dante's use of less familiar aspects of Latin clerical culture, including physiognomy, Vitruvian proportions, and optics, and most especially astrology. Kay explores new ways to read the Comedy. For instance, he argues that Dante has embedded references to his authorities in a continuous series of acrostics formed by the initial letters of each tercet. Again, he shows how Dante returns to the theme of each infernal canto and develops it in the parallel cantos of Purgatorio and Paradiso. Particularly worthy of note are four essays on the poem's finale in the Empyrean.
Contents: Preface; Rucco di Cambio de' Mozzi in France and England; The sin(s) of Brunetto Latini; The Pope's wife: allegory as allegation in Inferno 19.106-111; Dante's double damnation of Manto; The spare ribs of Dante's Michael Scot; Two pairs of tricks: Ulysses and Guido in Dante's Inferno XXVI-XXVII; Vitruvius and Dante's giants; Dante's razor and Gratian's D. XV; Dante's prophecy of peripety (Par. 27.142-148): an astrological fortuna; Unwintering January (Dante, Paradiso 27.142-143); Dante's empyrean and the eye of God; Vitruvius and Dante's Imago dei; Dante in ecstasy: Paradiso 33 and Bernard of Clairvaux; Flash or effulgence? Mental illumination in Dante's Paradiso 33.141; Parallel cantos in Dante's Commedia; Dante's acrostic allegations: Inferno XI-XII ; Dante's acrostic allegations: Inferno XI; Dante's acrostic allegations: Inferno XII; An acrostic allegation in Dante's Vita nuova; Il giorno della nascita di Dante e la dipartita di Beatrice; Indexes.
The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.
The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.
Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource.
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