Dante and Governance brings to the most grandiose of Dante's messages in the Divine Comedy critical viewpoints whose originality would, at any time, constitute an important addition to Dante scholarship, but the book is also notable for an approach which during the course of its composition spontaneously evolved as pragmatic and historical, particularly when seen against much contemporary Dante criticism. It explores Dante's breathtaking ambition to convince Europe's rulers and their subjects to create and embrace a universal peace, guaranteed by Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, which might afford serenity for mankind fully to develop its wonderful potentialities. In that context, a group of scholars, internationally known for their expertise not only in Dante studies but also in medieval literature and history, was invited to Oxford to discuss the poet's objectives. Each chose to argue a case from a close reading of Dante's own texts, using clear and jargon-free language.
Those deliberations created a well-focused and coherent group of papers on a variety of subjects, ranging from an aesthetic appreciation of Dante's depiction of free-will and moral responsibility, to a feminist perception of his attitude to the role of women in fourteenth-century Florentine public life.
The theme of Dante and governance (of the soul as well as of the state) is richly illuminated by this volume, while every essay in it either deepens our insight or provokes our thought, usually both. The book is a fine tribute to its dedicatee, the late Cecil Grayson. s
`Its essays are highly individual in content and approach, some attacking controversial topics, and they offer accounts of widely differing aspects of 'governance'. The collection's multiple interpretations of this theme, and Dante's thinking, make for a thought-provoking volume'
Catherine Keen, Italian Studies, vol 54, 1999
1: John Woodhouse: Dante and Governance: Context and Contents
2: Piero Boitani: From Darkness to Light: Governance and Government in Purgatorio XVI
3: Peter Armour: Dante and Popular Sovereignty
4: George Holmes: Monarchia and Dante's Attitude to the Popes
5: Richard Cooper: The French Dimension in Dante's Politics
6: Valerio Lucchesi: Politics and Theology in Inferno X
7: Claire Honess: Feminine Virtues and Florentine Vices: Citizenship and Morality in Paradiso XV-XVII
8: Martin McLaughlin: The Rock and the Vine: Pier della Vigna, Dante and the Imagery of Empire
9: John Took: Diligite iustitiam qui iudicatis terram: Justice and the Just Ruler in Dante
10: Peter Hainsworth: Dante's Farewell to Politics
List of Contributors