Dante's Plurilingualism
Authority, Knowledge, Subjectivity

Edited by Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati and Jürgen Trabant

Legenda (General Series)


6 September 2010  •  300pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-78-4 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


Dante’s conception of language is encompassed in all his works and can be understood in terms of a strenuous defence of the volgare in tension with the prestige of Latin. By bringing together different approaches, from literary studies to philosophy and history, from aesthetics to queer studies, from psychoanalysis to linguistics, this volume offers new critical insights on the question of Dante’s language, engaging with both the philosophical works characterized by an original project of vulgarization, and the poetic works, which perform a new language in an innovative and self-reflexive way. In particular, Dante’s Plurilingualism explores the rich and complex way in which Dante’s linguistic theory and praxis both informs and reflects an original configuration of the relationship between authority, knowledge and identity that continues to be fascinated by an ideal of unity but is also imbued with a strong element of subjectivity and opens up towards multiplicity and modernity.


  • ‘From the introduction to the concluding interview with Giorgio Pressburger, this volume of essays is characterized by both authoritative contributions from major figures in Dante studies (Baranski, Gragnolati, Pertile) and also by genuinely original lines of enquiry. Dante’s Plurilingualism constitutes an indispensable point of reference for contemporary Dante studies, an ideal companion to the new Dante editions that have recently appeared, and also acts as a constant spur to reread all of the poet’s works, and to appreciate the ‘plurilingualism’ that is inherent even in those works that that precede the Comedy.’ — Federica Pich, Lettere Italiane 2011, 323-28
  • ‘Although we also find essays that offer a strong historicizing or linguistic focus and others that are powerful contributions to the methodologies and findings traditionally associated with Dante studies, the volume remains of particular note (and importance) for its concern to open Dante up to dialogue across disciplines and to relate him to contemporary debates.’ — Simon Gilson, Modern Language Review 107.1, January 2012, 292-93 (full text online)
  • ‘Colpisce e affascina, in Dante’s Plurilingualism, una ben percepibile disposizione all’audacia interpretativa, al “saggio” come esperimento intellettuale; ciò che convince, nell’insieme, è che non si sia di fronte alla mera esibizione di uno “stile” critico – pur di- versamente delineato –, ma ad un molteplice tentativo di indagine su Dante, inteso come oggetto e al tempo stesso soggetto non tanto di una determinata stagione della lingua e della letteratura italiane, quanto di una più ampia e complessa storia culturale.’ — Martino Marazzi, L'Alighieri 39, June 2012, 160-64
  • ‘Proprio nella lingua che usiamo, con cui scriviamo, possiamo essere convinti che Dante sia arrivato prima di noi e che ci abbia lasciato una grandissima eredità. Gli interventi di questo volume riescono a mettere in evidenza tutti gli aspetti per cui la lingua di Dante e il suo modo di utilizzarla appaiono ancora oggi come un 'miracolo inconcepibile'.’ — Irene Baccarini, Dante VIII, 2011, 227-30



Introduction: Dante’s Plurilingualism
Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati, Jürgen Trabant


Mother Tongues in the Middle Ages and Dante
Giulio Lepschy


Millena variatio: Overcoming the Horror of Variation
Jürgen Trabant


Man as a Speaking and Political Animal: A Political Reading of Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia
Irène Rosier-Catach


Volgare e latino nella storia di Dante
Mirko Tavoni


Le idee linguistiche di Dante e il naturalismo fiorentino-toscano del Cinquecento
Stefano Gensini


Aristotele e Dante, filosofi della variabilità linguistica
Franco Lo Piparo


The Roots of Dante’s Plurilingualism: ‘Hybridity’ and Language in the Vita nova
Zygmunt G. Barański


Language as a Mirror of the Soul: Guilt and Punishment in Dante’s Concept of Language
Bettina Lindorfer


Plurilingualism sub specie aeternitatis and the Strategies of a Minority Author
Elena Lombardi


Dante’s Blind Spot (Inferno XVI-XVII)
Carlo Ginzburg


‘Trasmutabile per tutte guise’: Dante in the Comedy
Lino Pertile


Is Ulysses Queer? The Subject of Greek Love in Inferno XV and XXVI
Gary Cestaro


Lost for Words: Recuperating Melancholy Subjectivity in Dante’s Eden
Francesca Southerden


(In-)Corporeality, Language, Performance in Dante’s Vita Nuova and Commedia
Manuele Gragnolati


Dante After Wittgenstein: ‘Aspetto’, Language, and Subjectivity from Convivio to Paradiso
Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati


Epilogue: Riscrivere Dante in un’altra lingua. Conversazione con Giorgio Pressburger su Nel regno oscuro
Emma Bond, Manuele Gragnolati, Anna Laura Lepschy, Giorgio Pressburger


Bibliography entry:

Fortuna, Sara, Manuele Gragnolati, and Jürgen Trabant (eds), Dante's Plurilingualism: Authority, Knowledge, Subjectivity (Legenda, 2010)

First footnote reference: 35 Dante's Plurilingualism: Authority, Knowledge, Subjectivity, ed. by Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati and Jürgen Trabant (Legenda, 2010), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Fortuna, Gragnolati, and Trabant, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Fortuna, Sara, Manuele Gragnolati, and Jürgen Trabant (eds). 2010. Dante's Plurilingualism: Authority, Knowledge, Subjectivity (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Fortuna, Gragnolati, and Trabant 2010: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Fortuna, Gragnolati, and Trabant 2010: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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