Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

"Come Donna Innamorata" di Marco Santagata (Ugo Guanda, 2015)

This short novel has Dante as its main character (3rd person). It begins with a cast list. The first section, "Bice", is set 4 years after the death of Bice, the inspiration for Beatrice, but much of the time is spent describing the days just after her death. He discovers that she had a sad marriage (her husband wanted an heir, and refused to believe he was sterile), and that everyone except him seemed to know it. Just as Homer was blind, so he was blind to her suffering. He's told that the moment she was born (9 months after him) he had his first epileptic attack, and "9" appeared at other significant moments. He thinks her presence provoked his fits throughout her life - he can feel their onset as tremors, then a fit, then fainting. After, he feels weak and sad. He marries a woman from a better family but receives no dowry. He writes about Beatrice at the kitchen table.

The second section, "Guido", happens years later, mostly when he's in exile, caught up in Firenze's civil war. He's a better poet than politician. When Dante was 18 he met Guido Cavalcanti, who was then 28 and an influential poet. Guido thought that real love was bad for poetry. Dante disagreed. They argued too about the language to write poetry in, but they stayed friends. Dante alluded to him in his poetry. Later Dante's unsure which of them is John the Baptist to the other's Messiah. Dante's called upon to defend Guido but is aware of the danger to himself. The way the vote goes might have hastened Guido's death.

I'm wary of historical novels where the unknown reasons for known facts are provided, but this doesn't dwell on info-dumps. We learn about street-life around the churches, and the feuds between families are illustrated by behaviour rather than described.

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim

    Greetings from Firenze! It is our first holiday here and il Museo Casa di Dante is high on our list of places to visit.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish