Reading as the Angels Read: Speculation and Politics in Dante's 'Banquet'

Reading as the Angels Read: Speculation and Politics in Dante's 'Banquet'

by Maria Luisa Ardizzone


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Reading as the Angels Read: Speculation and Politics in Dante's 'Banquet' by Maria Luisa Ardizzone

An uncompleted manuscript that combines lyric poetry and prose commentary, the Banquet (or Convivio) is one of Dante Alighieri’s most important and least understood philosophical texts. As Maria Luisa Ardizzone shows, its language and logic are deeply connected to medieval culture and the philosophical debates of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.

In Reading as the Angels Read, Ardizzone reconstructs the cultural and socio-political background that provided the motivation for the Banquet and offers a bold new reading of this ambitious work. Drawing on a deep knowledge of Dante’s engagement with biblical, Augustinian, Neoplatonic, and Aristotelian philosophy, she suggests that the Banquet is not an encyclopedia of learning as many have claimed, but Dante’s attempt to articulate a theory of human happiness in which perfect knowledge is the natural basis for a well-organized political community.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442637061
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 03/18/2016
Series: Toronto Italian Studies Series
Pages: 472
Product dimensions: 6.53(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.37(d)

About the Author

Maria Luisa Ardizzone is a professor in the Department of Italian Studies at New York University.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Introducing a Cosmic Intellectual Dimension: The Dialectical Nature of Human Essence

Chapter Two: Loving a Divine Idea: A Cognitive and Educational Process

Chapter Three: Reading with Suspicio: Mind and Philosophy. A Philosophical Discussion about Mind

Chapter Four: Community and Intellectual Happiness: The Invention of a Shifting Logical Subject

Chapter Five: Syllogism and Censura: The Moralization of Nobility and the Decline of Intellectual and Political Aristocracy


What People are Saying About This

Teodolinda Barolini

"With a formidable commitment to illuminating the deep philosophical structures of Dante's Convivio, Maria Luisa Ardizzone's passionate eruditionbreathes new life into our understanding of Dante's philosophical treatise."

John Freccero

"Dante's inchoate Convivio is a precious document of his early philosophical exuberance and his subsequent theological awakening. The first three books contrast with the sober meditations of theology that follow in the fourth. Dante scholars through the centuries have used their knowledge of the philosophical allegorism of the first three books to interpret the Divine Comedy, when, in reality, as demonstrated by the fourth book of the Convivio, the poet had already turned to the theological realism of the completed work. Professor Ardizzone's extraordinary command of both the philosophical and the theological enables her to distinguish the difference. I know of no other reading that captures the Convivio in its entirety. It is a breakthrough in our understanding of the Divine Comedy."

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