Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was the author of the famous Divine Comedy. Less well known today, however, are Dante’s lyric poems and treatises. His lyric production comprised more than 120 poems in diverse forms (canzoni and sestine, i.e., long lyric poems, sonnets and ballads, written between around 1283 and 1315) as well as his Vita Nuova (The New Life). These lyric works made Dante well-known as a vernacular poet before he began writing the Commedia, and for two centuries they were among the most read works in Italian literature. In the nineteenth century, Dante found renewed success in Italy and abroad, and along with the Commedia, his lyric poetry also found new publics. In the British Isles, readers, poets, and translators – such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti – were interested in Dante not just as the author of the Commedia but also as a love poet. The rich holdings of Oxford libraries – the Bodleian Libraries and the Colleges’ libraries – allow us to reconstruct the main channels through which Dante’s lyric production has circulated from the fourteenth century to the contemporary era. The wide variety of books in the collections belonged to a diverse set of readers throughout the whole of Europe. In Oxford we can find preserved not only unique objects, but also the legacies of scholars such as Edward Moore and Paget Toynbee who studied Dante and gathered precious manuscripts and early printed editions.
Download the Catalogue of the Exhibition The Oxford Dante Festival
This digital exhibition is part of the project LyrA - Lyric Authority: Editing and Rewriting Dante’s Lyric Poetry (14th–16th c.), PI Dr Laura Banella, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 892804.
Dante Alighieri, Convivio, ed. Franca Brambilla Ageno (Florence: Le Lettere, 1995).
Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova, ed. Michele Barbi (Florence: Bemporad, 1932).
Dante Alighieri, Rime, ed. Domenico De Robertis (Florence: Le Lettere, 2002).
Italy's Three Crowns: Reading Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Eds. Zygmunt G. Barański and Martin L. McLaughlin (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2007).
Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries
SOLO - Search Oxford Libraries Online
A Map of Italy