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‚… sì mi fecer de la loro schiera‘ – Selbstautorisierung bei Dante an der Schwelle zur Frühen Neuzeit

David Nelting

Pages 1 - 24

In early modern ‘imitatio’, authority seems to be a rather contingent matter. Self-authorization becomes a pivotal moment in implementing poetic authority in the post-medieval world; in this context, Petrarch relies pre-eminently on two dispositifs: sodalization and singularization. That is, on the one hand the author can appear as a singularly creative individual; on the other hand he can stylize himself as a constitutive member of a cultural community. Looking more closely at Petrarch’s strategies of self-authorization, one can observe that they structurally recur to his ‘maestro negato’: Dante. It is Dante who grounds the authority of his awesome poetic and prophetic project in his own personality. To the reader of the ‘Commedia’, Dante shows himself as a worldly person, acting and speaking and thus textually performing his beliefs and pretensions. The reader is supposed to see Dante as a singular individual, sustainably surpassing his predecessors and contemporaries – both referring to his stylistic virtuosity and to his status as being elected by God to experience his anagogic journey. On the other hand, Dante grounds his authority on his affiliation to two communities of authors: to the ‘bella scola’ of antique poets as well as to the procession of biblical ‘scribae Dei’. By doing so, Dante does not recur to antique or medieval traditions, but he develops innovative ways of self-authorization, preparing an early modern conception of authority.


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