For a "New Formalism" in Dante

Teodolinda Barolini, Detheologizing Dante
unpublished
Studies In his capital and underutilized "Dante profeta," published in 1941, Bruno Nardi threw down a criticai gauntlet, and challenged us to look at the Commedia not through a glass darkly, but face to face. He begins where all such discussions must begin, with the Com-media^s most overtly prophetic moments, its political prophecies; situating them within the context of Joachimism and Franciscan spiritualism, he moves to a discussion of medieval attitudes toward prophecy, dreams, and
more » ... . Calling to our attention Albert the Great's belief that some people "sognano il vero, e, a differenza di altri, hanno visioni veraci, talché non di rado pronunziano perfino chiarissime profezie" (368), Nardi claims that Dante considered his own experience one such visione verace,^with the result that those who view the poem as a literary fiction misread it: "chi considera la visione dantesca e il rapimento del poeta al cielo come finzioni letterarie, travisa il senso" (392). Moreover, Nardi persists in asking the inelegant questions that are the logical consequence of his position, not only "Si deve dunque credere colle donnicciole di Verona, che Dante scendesse davvero all'Inferno, e davvero salisse all'Empireo?" (392), but even "Ma fu veramente un profeta, Dante?" (405). Given that his answer to the first query is a qualified yes ("Non precisamente questo; bensì che Dante credette gli fossero mostrati in visione l'Inferno, il Purgatorio, il Paradiso terrestre, come veramente sono nella realtà" [392]), Nardi's next step is to take on Croce, for whom to admit such a hallucination on Dante's part is to suggest-impossibly-that the lucid poet was a madman.Î f this is madness, says Nardi, Dante was in good company: "dobbiamo confessare che di demenza è impastata la psicologia religiosa; e dementi furono del pari Mosè, Zarathustra e Maometto, dementi Geremia, Ezechiele e san Paolo, non meno del protomartire Stefano e dell'autore dell'Apocalisse" (396). Faced with the obvious similarity
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