Corbett, George

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  • Publication
    Interpreting Dante’s 'Commedia': Competing Approaches
    (2021-12-12) Corbett, George
    This article first addresses the emphasis on the truth of the literal sense of Dante’s Commedia in twentieth-century scholarship, whether the poem is conceived as a mystical vision (Bruno Nardi, 1884-1968), figural fulfillment (Erich Auerbach, 1892-1957), or allegory of the theologians (Charles S. Singleton, 1909-1985; and Robert Hollander, 1933-2021). Secondly, it analyses the interpretative approach of the French Dominican scholars Pierre Mandonnet (1858-1936) and Joachim Berthier (1848-1924), who draw on symbolic theology (and the four senses of Scripture) but, unlike Singleton and Hollander, insist that the literal sense of the poem is a “beautiful lie.” Thirdly, it shows how literalist approaches underpin key twentieth-century discussions of Dante’s theology, contribute to broader secularizing trends in Dante Studies, and represent a rupture with the seven-hundred-year-long commentary tradition on the poem as a whole.