Dante’s Prayerful Pilgrimage

Typologies of Prayer in the Comedy


In Dante’s Prayerful Pilgrimage Alessandro Vettori provides a comprehensive analysis of prayer in Dante’s Commedia. The underlying thesis considers prayer a metaphorical pilgrimage toward a sacred location and connects it with the pilgrim’s ascent to the vision of the Trinity. Prayer is movement in Purgatorio and also in Paradiso, while eternal stasis is the penalty of blasphemous souls in Inferno. In the fictional rendition of the poem, the pilgrim’s itinerary becomes a specular reflection of Dante’s own exilic experience. Prayer’s human-divine interaction affords the poet the necessary escape from the overwhelming sense of failure in politics and love. Whether it is petitional, liturgical, thankful, praiseful, or contemplative, prayer expresses the supplicant’s wish to transform reality and attain a superior spiritual status.

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Alessandro Vettori, (Ph.D., Yale,1995) is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA). He is a specialist of medieval Franciscan writers (Poets of Divine Love, 2004) and of the rewriting of scripture (Giuseppe Berto, La passione della scrittura, 2013)
"Vettori’s thematic emphasis on prayer and pilgrimage makes a distinctive and highly valuable contribution to the broader scholarly reappraisal of Dante’s theology or, more aptly, Dante’s Christianity in contemporary scholarship. It will be of particular interest to Dante scholars and medievalists, as well as to those interested in the potential of literature to embody key dimensions of Christian religious experience".
George Corbett, in Speculum 96/2 (April 2021).

Introduction: Pilgrimage and Exile

1 Blasphemy in Inferno

2 The Psalms: Poetic Prayer of Ascent

3 Prayer as Art in Movement

4 Intercessions, Prayerful Locations, and the Theatrics of Prayer

5 Dancing Souls in Paradiso

Conclusion: Prayer as Desire to Be Elsewhere
Works Cited
All interested in Dante Studies, prayerful texts of the Middle Ages, liturgy, the interaction of bible and poetry, pilgrimage and exile, blasphemy, and the connection of art and prayer.
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