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Publication Detail
The Poetry of Mourning in the Vita nova: An Agambenian Reading
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Keen C
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  • Place of publication:
  • Pagination:
    21, 33
  • Volume:
  • Chapter number:
  • Series:
  • Editors:
    Corso S,Mussgnug F,Rushworth J
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
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  • Book title:
    Dwelling on Grief Narratives of Mourning Across Time and Forms
  • Keywords:
    Dante Alighieri, Vita nova, Giorgio Agamben, Mourning
Part of the originality of Dante’s Vita nova is that he seeks to write poetry after the death of the beloved, whereas in earlier traditions the death of the beloved would ordinarily mean the end of poetry. This chapter considers the end of poetry in the light of Giorgio Agamben’s comment that ‘the rubric Vita nova delimits an undecideability between what is lived and what is poeticized’ (Agamben, ‘The End of the Poem’). Analysing the presence and language of mourning in Dante’s Vita nova, what emerges is that the death of Beatrice is but one loss that the text recounts; as such, the chapter seeks to show the importance of mourning in the Vita nova’s fictional society beyond that of Dante’s individual experience. It traces moments of hesitation, fragmentation, and silence in Dante’s use of the vernacular and, especially, in his formal alternation of prose and poetry, but also shows how mourning is a collective experience, with poetry at the boundary of the private and the public. Agamben’s ‘undecidability’ is seen to be embodied in the open, unresolved ending of Dante’s Vita nova, which resists closure by putting forward a promise of future writing.
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