This text sets out to explore the idea of embodied spirit and its poetic consequences in Dante's "Commedia". Bodies be they ghostly, demonic, fleshly, or angelic are tied up in both literal and figurative knots because of their unstable ontology, an ontology that they share with human language. Each of the chapters deals with the interconnections between poetic speech and embodied spirit as they develop over the course of the Commedia's three canticles. Instead of regarding Dante as an Olympian poet, the approach emphasizes process, for even a masterpiece may conceal adjustments and shifts in strategy as part of its structure. While much current scholarship has set out to recover the specifically literary dimensions of Dante's enterprise by prising them away from the overriding theological concerns, this work is intended to bring the two together in an integrated vision.
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MARIANNE SHAPIRO has taught at Yale, University of California, Berkeley, and Brown Universities. Among her books are Woman Earthly and Divine in the Comedy of Dante, Hieroglyph of Time: The Petrarchan Sestina, The Poetics of Ariosto, and De vulgari eloquentia, Dante's Book of Exile.
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