Dante and the Construction of a Mediterranean Literary Space

Revisiting a 20th Century Philological Debate in Southern Europe and in the Arab World

In: Philological Encounters
Elisabetta Benigni Università degli Studi di Torino

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This article examines the ideological implications of the literary debate about the Arab-Islamic influences on Dante’s Divina Commedia and the emergence of the idea of Mediterranean literature. It traces the question of “influences” back to 16th century Italy, casts the modern controversy about Dante and the Arabs in the broader context of borders, and questions the definition of European and Romance literatures in relation to Arabic literature. It then focuses on the 20th century debate about the Arabic roots of the Commedia in Italy, Spain and the Arab world in order to account for the reception and translation of the Commedia into Arabic.

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