Building a Monument to Dante

Building a Monument to Dante: Boccaccio as Dantista

JASON M. HOUSTON
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442685727
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  • Book Info
    Building a Monument to Dante
    Book Description:

    Building a Monument to Danteemploys literary analysis coupled with philological and historical evidence to argue that Boccaccio's multifaceted work as Dante's editor, biographer, apologist, and commentator created a literary figure that could support Boccaccio's poetic and political ideologies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8572-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: A Monument to Dante Allighieri [sic]
    (pp. 3-11)

    You cannot walk through Florence without being continually reminded that both inside and outside her walls Dante Alighieri remains her most famous son. Despite the fact that he was exiled from Florence in 1301, numerous monuments to Dante mark the city. Indeed, it would be hard to find an Italian city without a via D. Alighieri or a Piazza Alighieri.¹ The most conspicuous of these monuments is the statue of Dante Alighieri in the loggiato of the Uffizi museum that intersects with the Piazza della Signoria. The loggiato, the most famous of all streets in Florence that transects the political...

  6. 1 Editor: Shaping the Material
    (pp. 12-51)

    Vittore Branca, the foremost editor and scholar of Giovanni Boccaccio, made the above confident statement on the task of the editor in his criteria for his 1973 critical edition of Giovanni Boccaccio’sDecameron, based on the Hamilton 90 manuscript, which he had recently established as an autograph manuscript. It is easy to understand his strict criteria knowing that he was in possession of Boccaccio’s autograph manuscript of theDecameron; any textual editor would feel justifiably confident that his edition could ‘attuare la volontà reale dello scrittore stesso.’ Branca suggests that the danger facing a textual editor lies in the propensity...

  7. 2 Biographer: Crafting the Figure
    (pp. 52-91)

    Giacomo Leopardi’s poemSopra il monumento di Dante, written in support of a project to erect a monument to Dante in Florence, laments the shameful fact that the city, more than 500 years after Dante’s death, had yet to repatriate the remains of the man whose poetry symbolizes the glory of Florence to the entire world. Leopardi’s poem praises those who would erect this monument (Dante’s cenotaph was finally placed in Santa Croce in 1830) but his poem also decries Italy’s broken spirit in the face of foreign occupation and constant political division. Indeed, both Dante’s cenotaph and the Ufizzi...

  8. 3 Apologist: Defending the Monument
    (pp. 92-123)

    Boccacciodantista’s work as an editor and biographer illustrates how he sought to influence the reception of Dante through manipulating the transmission of these texts in his manuscripts. Through his biographical writings, he crafted a figure of Dante that mirrored his own intellectual position. He prefaced the readers’ encounter with his own ‘monumental’ figure of Dante. In this way he propagated a version of Dante and his works into the manuscript culture for centuries to follow. For some of his contemporaries, Boccacciodantistaused other more direct tools to convince specific audiences of his particular vision of Dante. This chapter...

  9. 4 Commentator: Presenting the Monument
    (pp. 124-156)

    In 1375, only two years after Boccaccio gave his public lectures on Dante’sCommediain Florence and probably just a few months before his death in Certaldo, Benvenuto da Imola offered an anecdote in glossing Dante’s expression of doubts about his worthiness to follow Virgil’s lead in undertaking his otherworldly journey (Inf. II, vv. 10–36). Benvenuto understands the pilgrim’s hesitation to begin his journey as a manifestation of the author’s reluctance to compare himself to his poetic forefathers, Homer and Virgil. To illustrate Dante’s message of humility in this canto, Benvenuto recounts the story of how Dante originally began...

  10. Conclusion: Boccaccio the Architect
    (pp. 157-170)

    Just as Boccaccio’s work on Dante was influential in creating the monumental Dante, so too Boccaccio’s monument in the loggiato of the Uffizi bears the imprint of Petrarca’s judgment on Boccaccio. His statue stands just a few paces down from the statue of Dante that Boccaccio helped to construct. And between the two stands Petrarca. These three statues follow the traditional hierarchy of thetre corone. Dante’s statue was one of the original four proposed and erected, in a group with Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Lorenzo Il Magnifico in the same group.¹ Petrarca followed Dante; Boccaccio was the last of the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 171-202)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 203-216)
  13. Index
    (pp. 217-228)