From Living Experience to Poetic Word. Frames and Thresholds of Dante's Divine Comedy

Daniele Monticelli


This article concentrates on the functional duplicity of incipits and explicits in the articulation of the planes of living experience, memory, cognition and word in the Divine Comedy. The analysis of beginnings and endings at different structural levels of the poem demonstrates that they work, on one side, as modelizing and universalising frames which delimits the diegetic space conferring a final and stable meaning to narrated events; and, on the other side, as singularizing thresholds which, letting trespass the narrating instance into the diegetic space and the diegetic experience into the narrating instance, problematizes both the separateness and the adequate, harmonious articulation of living experience and poetic word. The article thus unravels Dante’s orchestration of limits and openings, totality and excess, sayable and unsayable across incipits and explicits of the Comedy and sketches a new possible research framework for the study of the mise-en-scène of the spatio-temporal distance/dialogue/tension between the embodied experience of Dante-character and the conceptualizing/poetic efforts of Dante-author and its role in the construction of the narrative strategy and the ideological structure of the poem.


Dante Alighieri; Divine Comedy; incipit; explicit; textual thresholds; narratology

Full Text:



Bertinetto, P. M. 2003. Tempi verbali e narrativa italiana dell’Otto-Novecento. Quattro esercizi di stilistica della lingua. Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso.

Calvino, I. 1995. Cominciare e finire. – I. Calvino, Saggi 1945–1985 [M. Barenghi, ed.]. Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.

Contini, G.1970. Varianti e altra linguistica. Torino: Einaudi.

Dante Alighieri 1967. La Divina Commedia [N. Sapegno, ed.]. Firenze: La Nuova Italia Editrice.

Dante Alighieri 2002. The Inferno [R. Hollander, J. Hollander, transl.]. New York: Anchor.

Dante Alighieri 2004. The Purgatorio [R. Hollander, J. Hollander, transl.]. New York: Anchor.

Dante Alighieri 2008. The Paradiso [R. Hollander, J. Hollander, transl.]. New York: Anchor.

Genette, G. 1983. Narrative discourse: an essay in method. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Genette, G. 1997. Paratexts: thresholds of interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

GGICII = Renzi, L., Salvi G., Cardinaletti A. (a cura di) 2001. Grande grammatica italiana di consultazione. Vol. II. I sintagmi verbale, aggettivale, avverbiale. La subordinazione. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Greimas, A., Courtés, J. 1982. Semiotics and Language: An Analytical Dictionary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lotman, Y. M. 1977. The structure of the artistic text [G. Lenhoff, R. Vroon, transl.]. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Lotman, Y. 2000. Universe of the mind [A. Shukman, transl.]. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Marchese, A. 1978. Dizionario di retorica e di stilistica. Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.

Monticelli, D. 2009. Crossing Boundaries. Translation of the Untranslatable and (Poetic) Indeterminacy in Juri Lotman and Giacomo Leopardi. – Interlitteraria, 17/2, 327–348.

Reichenbach, H. 1947. Elements of symbolic logics. London: MacMillan.

Sorella, A. 1983. Per un consuntivo degli studi recenti sul presente storico. – Studi di Grammatica Italiana, 12, 307–319.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN 1406-0701 (print)
ISSN 2228-4729 (online)