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IT7: Reading

Preparatory reading

The best way to prepare for this paper is to read as much of the Comedy as possible, helping yourself through with parallel language editions and the introductions and notes in those editions.  See particularly the editions by Robin Kirkpatrick (London, 2006-2007) and Robert Durling and Ronald Martinez (Oxford, 1996-2011).

Have a look at R. Jacoff (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Dante, Cambridge: CUP, 1993

and J. A. Scott, Understanding Dante, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004 for general overviews of issues in Dante as well as some contextual information (particularly in the Companion) on the history and politics of Dante’s time.

A wonderfully rich resource on Duecento poetry may be found online here:


Core texts and topics:


  • La commedia ed. Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi (3 vols. Mondadori: Meridiani, 1990-8)
  • Rime giovanili e della 'Vita Nuova', eds. Teodolinda Barolini and Manuele Gragnolati (Milan, 2009)
  • Convivio ed. Giorgio Inglese (Milan, 1993)
  • De vulgari eloquentia, trans. by S. Botterill (Cambridge, 1996)
  • Monarchy, trans. by P. Shaw (Cambridge, 1996)

Duecento Poetry:

  • Giacomo da Lentini
  • Guido delle Colonne
  • Guittone d'Arezzo
  • Jacopone da Todi
  • Guido Guinizzelli
  • Guido Cavalcanti

The cultural history of the period:

  • conflicts between Empire and Papacy
  • religious orders
  • visual arts

Background reading on the age of Dante

  • Waley, D., The Italian City Republics (London, 1969)
  • Larner, J., Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch 1216-1380 (London, 1980)
  • Martines, L., Power and Imagination: City States in Renaissance Italy (London, 1983)
  • Brand C. P., and Pertile, L.(eds.), The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, pp. 5-69
  • Valency, M., In Praise of Love: An Introduction to the Love Poetry of the Renaissance (New York, 1958), esp. pp. 106-272
  • Cole, B., Giotto and Florentine Painting (New York, 1976)
  • Smart, A. The Dawn of Italian Painting (Oxford: Phaidon, 1978)
  • Knowles, D., The Evolution of Medieval Thought (London, 2nd edn. 1988, rev. D. E. Luscombe and C. N. L. Brooke)
  • Brooke, R. and C., Popular Religion in the Middle Ages: Western Europe 1000-1300 (London, 1984)

Suggestions for further reading


The bibliography on Dante is immense and it would only be disheartening to give you more than a brief sample at this stage. Your supervisors will give you further ad hoc guidance when they discover where your particular interests lie.

Collections of Lecturae Dantis (expositions of single cantos)

  • Foster K., and Boyde, P.(eds), Cambridge Readings in Dante's Comedy (Cambridge, 1981)
  • Limentani, U., Dante's Comedy: Introductory Readings of Selected Cantos (Cambridge, 1985)
  • Wlassics, T. (ed.), Dante's Divine Comedy. Introductory Readings, I: Inferno, (Virginia, 1990)

If you find these essays helpful, you will find many other similar collections, both in English and Italian, in the Faculty Library.

Overview of Dante's Life and Works

  • Bemrose, S., A New Life of Dante (Exeter, 2000)
  • Holmes, G. Dante (Oxford, 1980)
  • Mineo, N. Dante (Laterza: Letteratura italiana Laterza, vol. 5; Duecento, §§167-192, 3rd ed. 1989)

Other works by or attributed to Dante

In each case your best point of departure will be the introductions, notes and bibliographies accompanying the following translations:

  • Dante's Lyric Poetry, ed. and trans. by K. Foster and P. Boyde, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1967)
  • The Banquet (Convivio), trans. by C. Ryan (Stanford, 1989)
  • De vulgari eloquentia, trans. by S. Botterill (Cambridge, 1996)
  • Monarchy, trans. by P. Shaw (Cambridge, 1996)
  • The 'Fiore' and the 'Detto d'Amore', ed. and trans. by S. Casciani and C. Kleinhenz (Notre Dame, 2000)
  • Rime giovanili e della 'Vita Nuova', Teodolinda Barolini and Manuele Gragnolati, (Milan, 2009)
  • Petrie, J., and Salmons, J. (eds.), Vita Nuova (Dublin, 1994); student edition with introduction and notes

Important general studies on Dante

Out of many scores of important general books on Dante, your attention is drawn to the following dozen, all of which have a broad theme or a challenging thesis, and all of which have been found stimulating by your predecessors. The titles speak for themselves.

  • Armour, P., The Door of Purgatory: A Study of Multiple Symbolism in Dante's 'Purgatorio' (Oxford, 1983)
  • Auerbach, E., Dante: Poet of the Secular World (Chicago and London, 1961)
  • Barolini, T., The Undivine Comedy: Demythologizing Dante (New York, 1993)
  • Botterill, S., Dante and the mystical tradition (Cambridge, 1994)
  • Charity, A.C., Events and their Afterlife . The Dialectics of Christian Typology in the Bible and in Dante (Cambridge, 1966)
  • Boyde, P., Dante Philomythes and Philosopher. I Man in the Cosmos (Cambridge, 1981), II Perception and Passion in Dante's 'Comedy' (Cambridge, 1993); III Human Vices and Human Worth in Dante's 'Comedy', (Cambridge 2000)
  • Freccero, J., Dante: The Poetics of Conversion (Cambridge, Mass., 1986)
  • Kirkpatrick, R., Dante's Inferno: Difficulty and Dead Poetry (Cambridge, 1988)
  • Mazzotta, G., Dante: Poet of the Desert (Princeton, 1979)
  • Morgan, A., Dante and the Medieval Other World (Cambridge, 1990)
  • Russo, V., Il romanzo teologico (Naples, 1984)
  • Scott J., Dante's Political Purgatory (Philadelphia, 1996)
  • Took, J. F., 'L'etterno piacer'. Aesthetic Ideas in Dante (Oxford, 1984)
  • Woodhouse, J. R.(ed.), Dante and Governance (Oxford, 1997)

Duecento Poetry (roughly in chronological order)

  • Battaglia, S., La coscienza letteraria del Medioevo (Florence, 1965)
  • Jensen, F., The Poetry of the Sicilian School (New York, 1985)
  • Moleta, V., The Early Poetry of Guittone d'Arezzo (London, 1975)
  • Hughes, S. and E., The Lauds: Jacopone da Todi (New York, 1982)
  • Marti, M., Storia dello stil nuovo (Lecce, 1972-3)
  • Nelson, L., The Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti (New York, 1986)
  • Corti, M., La felicità mentale: nuove prospettive per Dante e Cavalcante (Turin, 1983)

Historical Topics (see also the books listed under Preparation above)

  • Van Cleeve, T. C., The Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (Oxford, 1972)
  • Becker, M., Medieval Italy: Constraints and Creativity (Bloomington, 1981)
  • Hyde, J. K., Society and Politics in Medieval Italy: the evolution of the civil life 1000-1350 (London, 1973)
  • Moleta, V., From St Francis to Giotto: the Influence of St Francis on Early Italian Art and Literature (Chicago, 1983)
  • Moorman, J., A History of the Franciscan Order from its Origins to the Year 1517 (Oxford, 1968)
  • Wickham, C., Early Medieval Italy: Culture, Power and Local Society (London, 1981)