Philosophy and Literature 36 (1):111-121 (2012)

Authors
William Franke
Vanderbilt University
Abstract
By exposing itself as fiction, Dante’s poetry becomes true. Especially the Malebolge stages a relentless self-critique by Dante of his prophetic voice and the presumption of a human poet who imitates divine prophecy through merely human counterfeits. This self-deconstruction opens the poem to being informed from above and beyond itself by an authority not its own: divine grace can work the revelation of truth directly within interpretive acts of readers focused on the “doctrine hiding beneath the veil of the strange verses.” The apex (or nadir) of infernal irony is that Dante’s Inferno becomes prophetic revelation of truth by undermining its own merely human claim to be capable of delivering just such revelation.
Keywords Dante  Irony  Self-criticism
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DOI 10.1353/phl.2012.0019
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