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REVIEWS find. The type is clear and readable, the text remarkably free of error. Chaucerians, then, can be grateful to the compilers and the press for this bibliography. They may well require it in their graduateclasses and will no doubt find it useful for their own work. I am sure that my own copy will soon be well worn, and I look forward to a new edition. JAMES I. WIMSATT University of Texas at Austin UBERTO LIMENTANI. Dante's Comedy: Introductory Readings ofSelected Cantos. Cambridge, London, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp. viii, 164. $29.95, £19.50. Cambridge is the one place in Britain-indeed in the English-speaking world-where Dante studies have been flourishing with particularintensity in the past twenty years, as the workofKenelmFoster, Patrick Boyde, Robin Kirkpatrick, and Peter Dronke testifies. Although not a Dantist strictly speaking, Uberto Limentani has in many ways been the active source of inspiration behind the scholarly enterprises of his colleagues. Heit was who organizedaseriesof lectures tocelebratethe seventhcentenary ofthe poet's birth in 1965 (which he subsequently edited for the Cambridge University Press as The Mind ofDante), and it is to him that Cambridge owes the lecturae Dantis which, following the model inaugurated by Boccaccio in 1373-74, are held there regularly. It is therefore fitting that Limentani's own contributions to the lecturae should now be collected in a volume published by the same press that has brought out no less than seven books on Dante in the past fifteen years. In offering us Dante's Comedy, Limentani has, as he himself states, a twofold aim: to provide students with a first commentary on single cantos of the poem and to show the wider public that Dante can be read even by those who have little or no Italian. I have no doubt that the volume fully achievesitsdoublepurposeand that it will become a very useful tool for all who read it. The book in many ways resembles those early commentaries on the Comedy which sought to explain the poem's difficulties and elucidate its meaning by reading it line by line, and which can (rather, must) be read with profit even six centuries later. Here ten cantos are chosen (Inferno 1, 6, 235 SWDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER 8, 17; Purgatorio 1, 5, 8; Paradiso 1, 6, 17), and within each, every main narrative unit is quoted (with translation) and expounded. At the begin­ ning of every "reading," a few paragraphs recount the most important events or episodes intervening between those analyzed in the previous lectura and those which constitutethe focus of attention in the canto under examination. Thus a reader will have a fairlycoherent view of the Comedy as a whole,although thecommentaryproper isrestrictedtoselectedcantos. The reading of Purgatorio 5 (pp. 81-96), for example, begins with a summary exposition of Purgatory's moral structure, points to the contrast between cantos 4 and 5, and then examines the single units- the surprise of the souls at the sight of a living being, Virgil's reproach to Dante, the procession of the second group of the negligent and their questions, the extraordinary interviews with Iacopo del Cassero, Buonconte da Mon­ tefeltro (the dramatic and theological contrast with his father's story in Inferno 27 is not forgotten), and Pia de' Tolomei. The readings are meant to be introductory. None of them presents us with onesinglethesisoronespecific approach to acantoof thepoem. All of them take into account the variety and complexity of themes, doctrinal problems,historicalbackground,andstylistic features which wouldstrike a reader following Dante through the one hundred cantos of the Comedy. Plain, sensible, and sensitive as this introduction is, it does not try to avoid large problematic issues (for instance, why Cato, a pagan and a suicide, should appear in Purgatorio 1) or historical difficulties (who, indeed, is Ciacco, and what does the name itself mean?). Although patterns are not easy to identify in books such as this, the impression one has in reading Dante'.r Comedy is that the author focuses withgreater pleasure andattention on someaspectspresentthroughout the poem- the "sense of an opening" in the three cantos 1; the theme of politics (Inferno 6 and Paradiso 6); the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 235-236
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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