Any examination of the phenomenon of absence in the Commedia must account for a crucial linguistic issue: though they are amply attested in the Commedia’s sources, the words assenza, assente, and their derivatives are themselves conspicuously absent from the poem’s lexicon. Absence experiences are expressed in the poem partly through imagery and circumlocution, but also through a constellation of individual words which invoke experiences of absence without naming absence as such. One particularly suggestive word operating within this language of omission is the verb scemare. With a focus on Purgatorio 30, in this paper, I discuss the importance of scemare to Dante’s lexicon of exclusion, and the ways in which it shapes our experience and understanding of absence in the Commedia more broadly.
"Scemare, or Approaching “Virgillessness”,"
Bibliotheca Dantesca: Journal of Dante Studies: Vol. 5, Article 20.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/bibdant/vol5/iss1/20
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