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Title: Dante's masterplot and the alternative narrative models in the Commedia
Author: Crisafi, Nicolò
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7304
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates the narrative models in Dante's Commedia with the aim of opening up the poem to alternatives to the dominant narrative embedded in the text, which it terms Dante's masterplot. This is the teleological trajectory which allows the poet to subjugate earlier works or earlier parts of the poem to the revisionist gaze of its endpoint. The thesis analyses the masterplot's workings in the text and its role in the interpretation of the poem, and documents its overwhelming success in influencing readings of the Commedia. It then explores three competing narrative models that resist and counter its monopoly, which are enacted by (i) paradoxes, (ii) alternative endings and parallel lives; and (iii) the future. Paradoxes are used to neutralise the teleological hierarchy and thus allow Dante to represent contradictory ideas and experiences in the temporal medium of language. Through counterfactuals and twin episodes, Dante establishes in his poem a number of storylines that detour from and run parallel to the main narrative; this allows him to make room for an affective space within the text, which suspends narrative necessity and moral normativity. The future tense poses a problem case for the masterplot in that it indefinitely postpones the endpoint on which teleology relies, and thus exposes the poem, and its author's, vulnerability to time and circumstance. By focusing on non-linear modes of storytelling, the thesis questions interpretations of the Commedia that favour one normative master-truth, and highlights instead the manifold poetic, theological and ethical tensions which, due to the masterplot's influence, are often overlooked. The thesis concludes with a proposal that, alongside the traditional notions of Dante's characteristic plurality of linguistic registers and styles, Dante's narrative pluralism can and should come to play a key role in contemporary and future readings of the Commedia.
Supervisor: Webb, Heather ; Lombardi, Elena ; Southerden, Francesca ; Gragnolati, Manuele Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Italian literature ; Medieval and Modern Languages ; Dante Studies ; Narrative Theory ; Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321--Criticism and interpretation