This collection – to be issued in three volumes – offers an unprecedented repertoire of vertical readings for the whole poem. As the first volume exemplifies, vertical reading not only articulates unexamined connections between the three canticles but also unlocks engaging new ways to enter into core concerns of the poem. The three volumes thereby provide an indispensable resource for scholars, students and enthusiasts of Dante.
The volume has its origin in a series of thirty-three public lectures held in Trinity College, the University of Cambridge (2012-2016) which can be accessed at the Cambridge Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy website.
V. Stanley Benfell examines Dante's argument that the truth of the sacred text could only be revealed when engaged with in a transformative manner - and that a lack of such encounters in his time had led to a rise in greed and corruption, notably within the Church. He also illustrates how the poet put forth a vision for the restoration of a just society using Biblical language and imagery, revealing ideas of both earthly and eternal happiness. The Biblical Dante provides an insightful analysis of attitudes towards both the Bible and how it was read in the Medieval period.
In Dante’s Idea of Friendship, Filippa Modesto offers sharp readings of the Commedia, Vita Nuova, and Convivio that demonstrate Dante’s interest in that theme. Drawing on a lucid and wide-ranging examination of the literature on friendship, she shows how he weaved together the contradictory classical and the Christian concepts of friendship into a harmonious synthesis in which friendship became a handmaiden to salvation and happiness. A fresh, perceptive interpretation of Dante’s works, Dante’s Idea of Friendship will engage medievalists, classicists, and scholars of friendship throughout the ages.