Tuesday, 22 March 2011

David Bowe on Dante

Dreamboats: sketches for a discussion of dreams love and poetic authority in Dante's «Purgatorio»

David Bowe (DPhil in Italian, St Hilda's College)

 
I3MS has devoted its last session of Hilary term to Dante and Cavalcanti, in advance on what will be the paper of our colleague David Bowe at the Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, on 12th and 13th April, which we encourage you to visit.

In accordance with the topic "Sleep" of the conference, David spoke about the role of dream and sleep in Dante's Purgatory and its relation to the sonnets "S'io fosse quelli che d'Amor fu degno", by Cavalcanti, and "Guido, i' vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io", by Dante, addressed to the former. David's main point was that the interpretative key and the most relevant imagery for the dreams that occur during Dante's stay in Purgatory depend on this exchange of sonnets.

On the one hand, boats appear in both poems, and by boat is how Dante reaches Purgatory. On the other, Purgatory is the only place where Dante sleeps and his dreams are visionary and related to love and different conceptions of it. In addition, in both the sonnets and the "Commedia" boats are used as symbols of poetry, as well as Dante's visions announce the accomplishment of his poetic goal, which is totally opposed to Cavalcanti's, as their conception of love differs completely. Therefore, reaching Purgatory by boat could be interpreted as joining a new kind of poetry whose climax is the sublimation of love and divinity that Dante will find in Heaven, as well as his dreams could represent the confirmation of this poetic inspiration and his feelings being the right ones. As a result, love, dreams and boats are closely bound in Purgatory.

The discussion that followed was extremely rich, as it raised many interesting questions such as the relation between ships and death, ships and dreams, and ships and suicide in literature. However, we are sure that there will be many more interesting questions at the conference.

Many thanks to all for coming and we hope to see you next term too.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Florence Curtis comments on an article by Chauncey Wood

"The Author's Address to the Reader: Chaucer, Juan Ruiz, and Dante" by Chauncey Woods. In Hermeneutics and Medieval Culture, edited by Helen Damico and Patrick J. Gallacher, 51-60. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989.

 Florence Curtis (DPhil in Spanish, St Anne's College)


The last session of I3MS adopted a different format, where one of its members read aloud and commented on the above article by Chauncey Woods, which deals with Spanish and Italian, as well as English literature. However, the general impression was that the author had not a deep knowledge of the texts he was analysing, at least the Spanish and the Italian ones, so that his conclusions had to be accepted with the greatest care. In spite of that, the attendants were able to share their own perspectives on address to the reader in Dante and Juan Ruiz from their own backgrounds, so some similarities and discordances were found that Chauncey Woods had not considered. For example, some interesting disquisitions were made about the term "libello" (little book) used to refer to Dante's "Vita Nuova" and about subjective perspective in both, "Vita Nuova" and "Libro de Buen Amor".


Thank you to all that participated and we hope to see you in the next session.
 
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