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Divine Dialectic

Divine Dialectic: Dante's Incarnational Poetry

  • Book Info
    Divine Dialectic
    Book Description:

    A fresh reading of Dante?s major literary works ? the Divine Comedy and the Vita nuova ? that combines central tenets of incarnational theology and dialectical thought to challenge a dominant paradigm in Dante criticism

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7398-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. A Note on Texts and Translations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction: Dante’s Incarnational Dialectic
    (pp. 3-22)

    As the pre-eminent Christian epic of the Middle Ages, Dante’sDivina Commediaproperly ends with a vision of the Incarnation. To represent the paradoxical union of complete human and divine natures in a single person, the poet imagines a fit between an image of humankind – ‘nostra effige’ [our image] – and the reflected circle of the triune Godhead (Par. 33.115–38). Of course, the wayfarer is unable to see this theological mystery on the strength of his ‘own wings’ (139). The vision, we are told, is granted by a ‘flash’ –fulgore– of divine power (140–1), the...

  6. Chapter One Divisive Dialectic: Incarnational Failure and Parody
    (pp. 23-66)

    As theological doctrine, the redemptive narrative of the Incarnation most properly belongs to theDivina Commedia, in particular the two cantiche –PurgalorioandParadise– treating the realms of the saved souls. Yet Dante, who likes to build on ideas and examine them from multiple angles, including the absence or negation of these ideas, sets up his complex representation of the Incarnation and its relation to the world in earlier works. In theInferno, the poem of ‘le genti dolorose / c’hanno perduto il ben de l’intellettoʼ [the wretched people who have lost the good of intellect] (Inf. 3.17...

  7. Chapter Two Incarnational Dialectic Writ Large
    (pp. 67-124)

    After Dante and Virgil have completed their climb down and then up Luciferʼs lower body, the wayfarer is confused because he no longer sees the ice of Cocytus. More puzzling still, Lucifer now appears upside clown, with his legs sticking straight up, and evening has suddenly turned to morning (Inf. 34.100–5). Virgil patiently explains that, having passed through the centre of the earth, the travellers are under the southern hemisphere. To escape the fallen angelʼs head-first entrance into this hemisphere, the land shifted to the other half of the globe. The southern hemisphere, however, was not made completely landless....

  8. Chapter Three Dante’s Incarnational Dialectic of Martyrdom and Mission
    (pp. 125-196)

    I turn now to the episodes of the Sun and Mars not merely because they immediately follow upon Dante’s imagining of the shadowed spheres of the Moon, Mercury, and Venus according to medieval cosmology and the poem’s textual chronology. Rather, the solar and martian cantos (Par. 10–17) constitute the focus of my final chapter because they function together as a unit that provides a sweeping view of the incarnational itinerary traced in this study. As the wayfarer and Beatrice move toward the centre of the planetary universe, thereby accompanying the reader to the centre of theParadiso, the poetʼs...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 197-240)
  10. Index
    (pp. 241-254)