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Dante AlighieriMay/June c.1265 - September 14, 1321
Part 8 of 13: Convito, Vita Nuova & Canzoniere
The Convito, or Banquet, also called Convivio (Bembo uses the first form, Trissino the other), is the work of Dante's manhood, as the Vita Nuova is the work of his youth. It consists, in the form in which it has come down to us, of an introduction and three treatises, each forming an elaborate commentary in a long canzone. It was intended, if completed, to have comprised commentaries on eleven more canzoni, making fourteen in all, and in this shape would have formed a tesoro or handbook of universal knowledge, such as Brunetto Latini and others have left to us. It is perhaps the least well known of Dante's Italian works, but crabbed and unattractive as it is in many parts, it is well worth reading, and contains many passages of great beauty and elevation. Indeed a knowledge of it is quite indispensable to the full understanding of the Divina Commedia and the De Monarchia. The time of its composition is uncertain. As it stands it has very much the look of being the contents of note-books partially arranged. Dante mentions princes as living who died in 1309; he does not mention Henry VII. as emperor, who succeeded in 1310. There are some passages which seem to have been inserted at a later date. The canzoni upon which the commentary is written were probably composed between 1292 and 1300, when he was seeking in philosophy consolation for the loss of Beatrice. The Convito was first printed in Florence by Buonaccorsi in 1490. It has never been adequately edited.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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