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Abstract

The thematization of centrality in Dante’s Commedia is evident even in its opening lines. Despite the evident richness of the theme throughout the poem, however, criticism has overwhelmingly preferred to discuss centrality in the Commedia in terms of numbers. This has led to a general critical concern less with centrality than with what one might call “middleness,” which has precluded any serious discussion of the two distinct concepts. In the Commedia, the state of middleness carries with it the double meaning of mezzo as both a middle and a tangible medium through which action takes place, while centro carries its own distinct set of nuances. By consolidating existing critical receptions of centrality, and offering new approaches to the poem’s rich polycentrism, this essay elucidates the ways in which each potential center-geographical, numerological, “human” - offered by the poem functions as a perspectival lens through which to read it.

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