Dante and Augustine: Linguistics, Poetics, Hermeneutics

By Simone Marchesi

© 2011

At several junctures in his career, Dante paused to consider what it meant to be a writer. The questions he posed were both simple and wide-ranging: How does language, in particular 'poetic language,' work? Can poetry be translated? What is the relationship between a text and its commentary? Who controls the meaning of a literary work? In Dante and Augustine, Simone Marchesi re-examines these questions in light of the influence that Augustine's reflections on similar issues exerted on Dante's sense of his task as a poet.

Examining Dante's life-long dialogue with Augustine from a new point of view, Marchesi goes beyond traditional inquiries to engage more technical questions relating to Dante's evolving ideas on how language, poetry, and interpretation should work. In this engaging literary analysis, Dante emerges as a versatile thinker, committed to a radical defence of poetry and yet always ready to rethink, revise, and rewrite his own positions on matters of linguistics, poetics, and hermeneutics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.9in x 9.3in
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Quick Overview

Examining Dante's life-long dialogue with Augustine from a new point of view, Marchesi goes beyond traditional inquiries to engage more technical questions relating to Dante's evolving ideas on how language, poetry, and interpretation should work.

Dante and Augustine: Linguistics, Poetics, Hermeneutics

By Simone Marchesi

© 2011

At several junctures in his career, Dante paused to consider what it meant to be a writer. The questions he posed were both simple and wide-ranging: How does language, in particular 'poetic language,' work? Can poetry be translated? What is the relationship between a text and its commentary? Who controls the meaning of a literary work? In Dante and Augustine, Simone Marchesi re-examines these questions in light of the influence that Augustine's reflections on similar issues exerted on Dante's sense of his task as a poet.

Examining Dante's life-long dialogue with Augustine from a new point of view, Marchesi goes beyond traditional inquiries to engage more technical questions relating to Dante's evolving ideas on how language, poetry, and interpretation should work. In this engaging literary analysis, Dante emerges as a versatile thinker, committed to a radical defence of poetry and yet always ready to rethink, revise, and rewrite his own positions on matters of linguistics, poetics, and hermeneutics.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.9in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    Dante and Augustine delights as a well-constructed, elegantly argued, and intellectually coherent study of Dantean ideas through the lens of Augustinian theory. Simone Marchesi deftly juggles all the chief components of Dante’s thought and praxis by employing his command of classical and post-classical linguistics, poetics, and hermeneutics. Covering an impressive amount of ground while maintaining a light, graceful style, Dante and Augustine makes a genuine contribution to both Dante studies and the history of rhetorical and hermeneutical ideas – no mean feat.’
    Teodolinda Barolini, Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian, Columbia University

    ‘In robust and inspiring prose, Dante and Augustine offers original, well-researched insights into the relationship between these two major authors. Marchesi’s sound research methodology and excellent knowledge of the field are enlivened by his discussions of language and poetics, which are always clear and elegant. His comparisons between  contemporary and medieval linguistic theory are particularly efficient and successful.’
    Elena Lombardi, Department of Italian, University of Bristol
  • Author Information

    Simone Marchesi is an associate professor in the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University.

  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements
    Preface

    Introduction

    1. Linguistics
      1. a. The nature of language and the common project of Convivio and De vulgari eloquentia: enucleare aliis conceptum
        b. The quest for a perfect language: Latin as grammar
        c. An alternative model: Augustine again
        d. Concetto: the redefinition of conceptual speech in the Commedia
        e. Concetto again: Dante's incarnational poetics in Paradiso
    2. Poetics
      1. a. The making of poetry: verba and sentential as discretive mixta
        b. Meaning in poetry: the task of prose
        c. Convenientia across secular and biblical writings
        d. On translating meaning: biblical poetry and the sweetness of the Psalms
    3. Hermeneutics
      1. a. The burden of interpretation: authorial intention in Dante's "minor" works
        b. Per te poeta fui, per te cristiano: texts and authors framing Statius' Christianity
        c. Reading beyond the author: two stumbling blocks in Purgatorio XXII
        d. Augustine's regula caritatis and the interpretation of the Commedia
        e. Augustine's hermeneutics and the poetics of the Spirit

    Conclusion

    Works Cited

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