Rather the text defines the terrain within which meaning may be made. Where exactly the boundary between a possible reading and an "aberrant" one Eco lies is the subject of much theoretical debate. In the world of practi- cal Dante criticism, the problem is not so much "aberrant readings" as not treating the text with sufficient delicacy, of giving undue emphasis to one meaning to the detriment of others packed into Dante's "other polysemy. But perhaps reductionism is inescapable when one is dealing with a "producerly" text like the Comedy. And what are some of the most interesting "new things" that Dante has managed to produce in the past few years?
I make no effort here to survey the state of Dante criticism to- day. Several recent studies have attempted in varying degrees to do precisely that e.
Baranski, Kleinhenz, Robey, Vallone and I refer you to them. Precise bibliographical references may be found in the "Rassegna bibliografica ". Rather I shall focus on those "new things" at the edge of scholarship. My list is necessarily partial and personal. One of the highlights of such a catalogue must be Tom Phillips' engaging "visual commentaries" on the Inferno, which often go to the heart of Dante's purpose, exposing the text's subtle metaliterary discourse.
At the other end of the readerly-writerly dichotomy are Achille Incerti 's illustrations to the Comedy, published posthumously last year Perhaps best described as "existential-naif," they suggest an almost unmediated sense of identification with the text. With little formal education, Incerti began to paint while recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium, and to read Dante shortly there- after.
He executed his paintings with the spectre of death before him, and it shows. Let us swing back to the "writerly" pole and the staging of the Comedy by an avant-garde director. Federico Tiezzi, as an exercise to train young actors. The first installment. La Commedia dell'Inferno, was presented last June in Prato.
Purgatory and Paradise will follow in the next two years.
The scriptwriter, Edoardo Sanguineti, has actually written nothing. Rather he has fragmented and rear- ranged Dante's text, inserting bits of commentary from Boccaccio and Benvenuto, along with occasional citations from other sources from the Provencals to Ezra Pound's Cantos. With its plurilinguistic text, chanting delivery of lines, musical effects, and simultaneous action, the production approximates a 14th century oral performance of Dante's poem.
The Middle Ages have been made contemporary, a phenomenon which returns me to the new "orality" of our electronic environment, to which 1 referred earlier. I am thinking particu- larly of Vittorio Sermonti's scintillating radio broadcasts of the In- ferno the transcripts of which are now available in book form , and the various attempts to translate Dante from print into video, as well as on the scholarly front the Dartmouth Dante Project and other lesser attempts to computerize Dante.
The latest edition of the Zanichelli Commedia comes equipped with a floppy disk. I shall not linger over this subject, since I treat it extensively in my paper. Time and space contract, and scholarship becomes immediately accessible.
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Type "[coloro] che la ragion som- mettono al talento," and watch the screen fill with commentary, like a page in a medieval manuscript. The two illustrations, "Dante Steps into the Computer Age" and "Dante Produces for TV," commis- sioned especially for this volume, visually gloss these technological developments. The new electronic technology is being used not only to retrieve, transmit, and receive meaning, but also to alter the balance in the struggle for meaning. Let us take the situation in American Dante studies, which is certainly the most fluid and interesting at the mo- ment.
The struggle for meaning was triggered not so much by the passing of Singleton, who dominated American Dante criticism for thirty years as Croce once dominated the Italian scene, as by the ease and economy with which scholarly communication can be delivered today. Now all the voices that were marginalized by Singleton's dominant discourse can be heard. Many of the initiatives in the field, including the establishment of lecturae Dantis series and new specialized journals, come from what was once considered the pe- riphery of Dante studies in America.
Any attempt to impose meaning from the centre is doomed to failure. One such attempt — a curious one, to be sure — comes from Harold Bloom in his introduction to his various collections of American Dante essays for Chelsea House. His analysis of American Dante criticism is not so much a "strong misreading" of the situation as a feeble reading of it.
But on this subject much will be written: the issue of Annali d'italianistica Foreword vii will be given over entirely to the theme "Dante and Modern Ameri- can Criticism. In keeping with its editorial policy, no critical approach or ideology has been favoured. On the contrary, as editor of this special volume, I have attempted to include as many perspectives as pos- sible.
Methodologically, the various papers range from traditional philological and historical research to deconstruction and beyond. They tackle big questions, such as what does the Comedy mean and how does it mean what it means, and how was this meaning transmit- ted and received, as well as smaller issues, such as the interpretation of a single word or verse.
But even asking a small question in Dante entails a big effort and often produces important results. This volume would be incomplete without the contribution of the students in my graduate seminar on Dante at the University of Toronto three years ago. They are entirely responsible for the "Pic- cola biblioteca" and the "Rassegna bibliografica. Others who contributed significantly to the pro- duction of this volume are Massimo Ciavolella, Michael Dunleavy, and Susan lannucci. I would also like to thank the libraries and museums that kindly allowed us to reproduce illustrations from their collections.
Finally, I would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for its continuing financial support of this journal.
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Amilcare A. Manuscripts should not exceed 30 typewritten pages, double-spaced, and should be submitted in duplicate: the original and one photocopy. Comedy in Inferno 30 Domenico Pietropaoi. Dante's Poets. Dante LD Anthony K. Mastrobuono, eds.
Dante Comparisons. D'Egitto in lerusalemme. Stiidi danteschi LB Giorgio Petrocchi. Dante scrittore EV Vittorio Russo. The relatively few arid attempts to televise him have met with limited success Antonucci.
This is surprising, since the textual characteristics of Dante's Divine Comedy are in many ways similar to those of television. But perhaps this was not as evident then as it is now. And even now it is probably not evident to everyone. Whatever the case, this belated realization may, in part, explain the recent interest in "translating" Dante from print into video.
In the past few years there have been three such efforts. The other two are in various stages of elaboration. Channel Four Television in Britain has a thirty-four part series on the In- ferno in production.
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So far only the pilot on Inferno 5 is complete A third programme on "Dante's Universe" is under way, and more are planned. I am involved in the latter enterprise. By far the most ambitious in scope is the British A W Dante, which carries the signature of a talented avant-garde director, Peter Greenaway. Their aim is obviously not didactic, not in the institutional sense at any rate, but this programme too could, if properly introduced and contextualized, be used effectively in the classroom.
Is this legitimate? Is it appropriate to use television to teach a literary text? If it is, then why is it? How can television be used? In what way can it be integrated into an overall pedagogical strategy? I limit the following discussion to Dante's Divine Comedy and the three television projects mentioned above. Dante's Audience Then In his Life of Dante, Boccaccio recounts the following anecdote: [Dante's] complexion was dark, and his hair and beard, thick, black, and crisp; and his countenance always sad and thoughtful. And thus it hap- pened one day in Verona.
The story is probably apoc- ryphal, but it confirms what we know from other sources about the early diffusion of Dante's poem and the audiences to which it appealed. It penetrated all levels of contemporary society. The literate read it, transcribed it, and passed it on to friends — the manuscript tradition assures us of this.
This group recognized the poem's greatness immediately and soon elevated it from the rank of a best seller to that of a classic, if one measure of a classic is the amount of critical literature it inspires. Dante had hardly settled into his grave before the first glosses appeared. His sources were tracked Dante, Television, and Education 3 down and listed, and the literal and allegorical meanings of his poem were expounded. No verse was left unremarked. By the end of the fourteenth century, Dante's poem had generated more commentary than ViTgiVs Aeneid had throughout the whole of the Middle Ages.