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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

Information about the author:

Caterina Corbella, Associate Researcher, Research Centre “Dostoevsky and World Culture”, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


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The article explores the relations occurring between the global interpretation of Dante’s Vita Nuova and the commentary to single passages of the text. The analysis contained in Luigi Valli’s book The Secret language of Dante and the Faithful of Love (1930), where the author invites the reader to look at Medieval Italian poetry as an esoteric text, is compared with contemporary editions commented by M. Colombo (1993) and D. Pirovano (2015).

The analysis of chosen passages from the text underlines Valli’s effort to find for each element in the text an explanation not only not contradicting, but also enriching the meaning of all the other details and of the global interpretation of the text. This kind of process often leaves open questions, stimulating the reader to go deeper in the text in order to find an answer. Commentary in contemporary editions differs from Valli’s hermeneutic work since authors frequently do not help the reader to enter the whole text, even if they offer him plenty of materials. The main hurdle for an in-depth reading can be found in their continuous offering the reader de facto two parallel ways: biographical and symbolical.

The final part of the article analyses examines the authors’ assertions about the essence of the Vita Nuova. It shows how the gap between biographical and symbolical elements that were found in the commentary rises from the original confusion that lies at the bottom of the common interpretation of the Vita Nuova as an itinerary from eros to agape. This statement does not find any textual confirmation in the book, where Dante on the contrary persists in using one term to indicate love — amore. Valli’s hypothesis, affirming that the only language able to speak about amore is a symbolical one, wins back a whole and united way to enter the book.

  • Keywords: interpretation, commentary, Dante Alighieri, Stil Novo, Vita Nuova, Faithful of Love.


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