This chapter explores Dante’s relationship to Guittone d’Arezzo: a pivotal figure in the Italian Duecento, whose critical reception has been greatly conditioned by Dante’s hostile attitude towards him. The chapter problematizes a dominant critical perspective that attributes Dante’s hostility, first, to a stylistic distaste, owing to Guittone’s dense and convoluted rhetoric, and, second, to an ‘anxiety of influence’, owing to the fact that Guittone’s movement from amatory to ethical and political poetry can be seen to foreshadow Dante’s own poetic development. While the importance of these two matters is not to be underestimated, existing approaches to Dante’s anti-guittonismo underplay an enduring dissent between the poets in terms of their handling of love. The chapter argues that, far from tacitly following Guittone’s model of poetic conversion, Dante rejects it, defining his own poetics of integration in opposition to the Aretine’s stark separation of vernacular poetry and desire.
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