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5. Gramsci’s Analysis of Canto X of Dante’s Inferno

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Chapter Summary

Gramsci's interest in Canto X spans a period of more than twenty years, from his student days at the University of Turin on the eve of World War I to the early 1930s, when he occupied a cell in the prison for the infirm and disabled in Turi di Bari and was composing the 2,848 manuscript pages that eventually comprised the Prison Notebooks. Gramsci's study of Dante exemplified his belief that it is necessary to situate literary works within the always complex and contradictory nature of historical reality. A distinctive feature of the critical methodology Gramsci employed in his analysis of Canto X is the analogies he makes with three other art forms: drama, painting, and music. Throughout the pages devoted to Canto X in the notebooks, and in the letter of 20 September 1931 to Tania, the word 'drama' is used over and over again to characterise Dante's art.

Keywords: Antonio Gramsci; Canto X; Dante; music; painting; Prison Notebooks; University of Turin



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