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Dante’s Lyric RedemptionEros, Salvation, Vernacular Tradition$
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Tristan Kay

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198753964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198753964.001.0001

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Dante’s Commedia between Dualism and Integration

Dante’s Commedia between Dualism and Integration

(p.60) 2 Dante’s Commedia between Dualism and Integration
Dante’s Lyric Redemption

Tristan Kay

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the Commedia’s response to the cluster of interrelated tensions set out in Chapter 1. While the poem at times endorses a dualistic framework of love, denigrating earthly desires and affections, what emerges in the pilgrim’s love for Beatrice is a uniquely synthetic love that harmonizes spiritual, affective, and intellective impulses. The chapter engages with debates surrounding the value ascribed by Dante to earthly love, from Inferno V to the Paradiso, and problematizes readings that posit an antagonistic relationship between the ‘sacred poem’ and love lyric. It contends that Dante is not concerned with severing himself from the secular lyric tradition in espousing ethical, political, and religious content, but rather with transcending a dualistic model of conversion and integrating erotic and spiritual commitment. This synthesis, realized through the figure of Beatrice, is seen to inform—centrally and powerfully—Dante’s claims to supremacy as a vernacular poet.

Keywords:   Dante, Divine Comedy, desire, eros, salvation, Beatrice

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