In Dante and the Limits of the Law, Justin Steinberg offers the first comprehensive study of the legal structure essential to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Steinberg reveals how Dante imagines an afterlife dominated by sophisticated laws, hierarchical jurisdictions, and rationalized punishments and rewards. He makes the compelling case that Dante deliberately exploits this highly structured legal system to explore the phenomenon of exceptions to it, crucially introducing Dante to current debates about literature’s relation to law, exceptionality, and sovereignty. Examining how Dante probes the limits of the law in this juridical otherworld, Steinberg argues that exceptions were vital to the medieval legal order and that Dante’s otherworld represents an ideal “system of exception.” In the real world, Dante saw this system as increasingly threatened by the dual crises of church and empire: the abuses and overreaching of the popes and the absence of an effective Holy Roman Emperor. Steinberg shows that Dante’s imagination of the afterlife seeks to address this gap between the universal validity of Roman law and the lack of a sovereign power to enforce it. Exploring the institutional role of disgrace, the entwined phenomena of judicial discretion and artistic freedom, medieval ideas about privilege and immunity, and the place of judgment in the poem, this cogently argued book brings to life Dante’s sense of justice.
In Dante and the Sense of Transgression, William Franke combines literary-critical analysis with philosophical and theological reflection to cast new light on Dante's poetic vision. Conversely, Dante's medieval masterpiece becomes our guide to rethinking some of the most pressing issues of contemporary theory. Beyond suggestive archetypes like Adam and Ulysses that hint at an obsession with transgression beneath Dante's overt suppression of it, there is another and a prior sense in which transgression emerges as Dante's essential and ultimate gesture. His work as a poet culminates in the Paradiso in a transcendence of language towards a purely ineffable, mystical experience beyond verbal expression. Yet Dante conveys this experience, nevertheless, in and through language and specifically through the transgression of language, violating its normally representational and referential functions. Paradiso's dramatic sky-scapes and unparalleled textual performances stage a deconstruction of the sign that is analyzed philosophically in the light of Blanchot, Levinas, Derrida, Barthes, and Bataille, as transgressing and transfiguring the very sense of sense.
A Study of the Engravings, Pencil Sketches and Watercolors
Author: Eric Pyle
William Blake’s series of illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy was his last major project and a summation of his religious and artistic beliefs. Blake intended to engrave this series, but it was unfinished at his death. The series includes seven partially complete engravings and 102 works in various stages of completion—some of the most beautiful pictures of his career. These pictures are not simple illustrations, but constitute a thorough reinterpretation and—in Blake’s view—correction of Dante’s poem. This book compares the two men’s theological and artistic views and analyzes in detail the meaning of Blake’s illustrations, for the first time introducing their theological and aesthetic exuberance to a modern audience.
Flesh and the Centrality of the Eucharist to The Divine Comedy
Author: Sheila J. Nayar
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Category: Literary Criticism
Arguing that the consecrated body in the Eucharist is one of the central metaphors structuring The Divine Comedy, this book is the first comprehensive exploration of the theme of transubstantiation across Dante's epic poem. Drawing attention first to the historical and theological tensions inherent in ideas of transubstantiation that rippled through Western culture up to the early fourteenth century, Sheila Nayar engages in a Eucharistic reading of both the "flesh" allusions and "metamorphosis" motifs that thread through the entirety of Dante's poem. From the cannibalistic resonances of the Ugolino episode in the Inferno to the Corpus Christi-like procession seminal to Purgatory, Nayar demonstrates how these sacrifice- and Host-related metaphors, allusions, and tropes lead directly and intentionally to the Comedy's final vision, that of the Eucharist itself. Arguing that the final revelation in Paradise is analogically "the Bread of Life," Nayar brings to the fore Christ's centrality (as sacrament) to The Divine Comedy-a reading that is certain to alter current-day thinking about Dante's poem.
Scott, James Brown. Law, The State, and the International Community. New York: Columbia University Press, 1939. Two volumes. Reprinted 2002 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 2001018648. ISBN 1-58477-178-X. Cloth. $175. * Volume One: A Commentary on the Development of Legal, Political and International Ideals. Volume Two: Extracts Illustrating the Growth of Theories, and Principles of Jurisprudence, Government, and The Law of Nations. "This is a work of ambitious scope and conspicuous industry. It attempts a survey of the chief currents of political and juridical speculation from classical times to the end of the 16th century. The author divides his subject into six main periods: The Greek Background, The Roman Heritage, The Christian Heritage (Ancient and Medieval), The Transition from Medieval to Modern Thought, The Era of Reform, The Beginning of the Modern Age. The terminus is Richard Hooker on the brink of the 17th century. From the Dark Ages onwards, the teachings of twenty celebrated theological, political, and international savants are analyzed and presented in concentrated form. (...) One of Professor Scott's best chapters is on Francisco de Vittoria (c. 1483-1546), who is of particular interest for his influence on Grotius, and to whose remarkable Relectio de Indis Professor Scott has devoted special research." Marke, A Catalogue of the Law Collection at New York University (1953) 926.
History casts a spell on our minds more powerful than science or religion. It does not root us in the past at all. It rather flatters us with the belief in our ability to recreate the world in our image. It is a form of self-assertion that brooks no opposition or dissent and shelters us from the experience of time. So argues Constantin Fasolt in The Limits of History, an ambitious and pathbreaking study that conquers history's power by carrying the fight into the center of its domain. Fasolt considers the work of Hermann Conring (1606-81) and Bartolus of Sassoferrato (1313/14-57), two antipodes in early modern battles over the principles of European thought and action that ended with the triumph of historical consciousness. Proceeding according to the rules of normal historical analysis—gathering evidence, putting it in context, and analyzing its meaning—Fasolt uncovers limits that no kind of history can cross. He concludes that history is a ritual designed to maintain the modern faith in the autonomy of states and individuals. God wants it, the old crusaders would have said. The truth, Fasolt insists, only begins where that illusion ends. With its probing look at the ideological underpinnings of historical practice, The Limits of History demonstrates that history presupposes highly political assumptions about free will, responsibility, and the relationship between the past and the present. A work of both intellectual history and historiography, it will prove invaluable to students of historical method, philosophy, political theory, and early modern European culture.