By James Miller
In the course of his lifetime, Dante was once condemned as corrupt and banned from Florence on discomfort of loss of life. yet in 1329, 8 years after his dying, he used to be back viciously condemned—this time as a heretic and fake prophet—by Friar Guido Vernani. From Vernani’s inquisitorial perspective, the writer of the Commedia “seduced” his readers via supplying them “a vessel of demonic poison” combined with poetic fantasies designed to wreck the “healthful fact” of Catholicism. due to such pious vituperations, a sulphurous fume of unorthodoxy has over and over clung to the mantle of Dante’s poetic status. the first severe objective of Dante & the Unorthodox is to ascertain the classy impulses at the back of the theological and political purposes for Dante’s allegory of mid-life divergence from the papally prescribed “way of salvation.” Marking the septicentennial of his exile, the book’s eighteen severe essays, 3 excerpts from an allegorical drama, and a portfolio of fourteen modern artistic endeavors tackle the difficulty of the poet’s conflicted relation to orthodoxy. by way of bringing the unorthodox out of the world of “secret things,” via uncensoring them at each flip, Dante dared to oppose the censorious regime of Latin Christianity with a transgressive zeal extra threatening to papal authority than the demonic hostility feared by way of Friar Vernani.
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Extra resources for Dante & the Unorthodox: The Aesthetics of Transgression
Standing in front of the same stone, just behind the poet, is a small dark hooded figure whose face is partly obscured by the busy workmen milling about at the construction site. His Dominican habit, a clue to his identity, must have raised many an eyebrow when the painting was first unveiled. If he is indeed who he appears to be—the renegade preacher Girolamo Savonarola, burnt at the stake a decade before the Disputa was painted—then his brooding presence in the scene reveals the Holy Father’s retroactive power to restore intellectual 28 INTRODUCTION Raphael, Parnaso (1510–11), Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican.
That is hardly possible for moderns anyway. How can any of us suspend both belief and disbelief, as Eliot would INTRODUCTION 43 have us do, without wiping out the discursive contents of our minds? Such a state is only possible to attain in Dante’s poetic universe at the moment of oltraggio, but even then the transcendence of theological discourse does not even necessitate the isolation of subsequent literary judgment from religious and aesthetic interest in the problem of orthodoxy, an issue which will always be relevant to a poem in which a doctrinally marginal poet stages his own orthodoxy test and passes it (of course) with flying colours.
His Dominican habit, a clue to his identity, must have raised many an eyebrow when the painting was first unveiled. If he is indeed who he appears to be—the renegade preacher Girolamo Savonarola, burnt at the stake a decade before the Disputa was painted—then his brooding presence in the scene reveals the Holy Father’s retroactive power to restore intellectual 28 INTRODUCTION Raphael, Parnaso (1510–11), Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican. Above the doorway sits Apollo playing a violin. Dante poeta, the eighth figure on Apollo’s left, joins Homer and Virgil (happily harrowed from Limbo) to complete the triad of epic poets on the summit of humanist culture.