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In Dante's WakeReading from Medieval to Modern in the Augustinian Tradition$
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John Freccero, Danielle Callegari, and Melissa Swain

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264278

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264278.001.0001

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The Portrait of Francesca

The Portrait of Francesca

Inferno 5

(p.19) The Portrait of Francesca
In Dante's Wake

John Freccero

, Danielle Callegari, Melissa Swain
Fordham University Press

This chapter surveys the dominant themes of canto 5 of Inferno: the analysis of desire, reciprocity in love, the adumbration of subjectivity, and the mediation of the book. Before Dante's account in canto 5, there was no known record of the love story of Francesca da Rimini. His portrait of her emerges in astonishingly few verses and, in its passion and pathos, emulates and rivals Virgil's portrayal of Dido. In her monologue, Francesca sums up in retrospect the genesis, consummation, and fatal consequences of the love she shared with her inseparable companion in Hell, whom she does not name. Her celebrated apostrophe to love, the unforgettable anaphora on “Amore,” is at once succinct and profound, a rhetorical representation in miniature of consciousness and interiority without precedent in the Middle Ages.

Keywords:   Divine Comedy, Dante, Inferno, canto 5, Francesca da Rimini, love, desire, subjectivity

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