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Wordly Wise

The Semiotics of Discourse in Dante’s "Commedia</I>

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Raffaele de Benedictis

In Wordly Wise: The Semiotics of Discourse in Dante’s Commedia, Raffaele De Benedictis proposes a new critical method in the study of the Divine Comedy and Dante’s minor works. It systematically and comprehensively addresses the discursive aspect of Dante’s works and focuses mainly on the reader, who, along with the author and the text, contributes to the making of discursive paths and discourse-generating functions through the act of reading. This work allows the reader to become acquainted with how meaning is generated and whether it is granted legitimacy in the text. Also, in a system of signification, sign function and sign production are not limited to the properties of the mind but are the result of working interactively with the properties of discourse, which provide directionality for the reader’s enunciation(s) in action.

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Chapter ThreeDante’s Theorization of the Linguistic Deception

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dante’s theorization of the linguistic deception · 3 · 3.1 Linguistic Deception The central theme of this chapter focuses primarily on the Convivio, Dante’s philosophical treatise, where, among other topics, the poet discusses the allegory of the poets, not that of the theologians: this represents a relevant semiotic aspect of discourse, whose characteristics must be taken into account even in the Commedia. It is a point of departure for examining the modi signifi- candi (modes of signification) of the Commedia, since some characteristics of the allegory of the poets, if considered from a semiotic standpoint, may very well relate to and aid the allegory of the theologians which appears to be the dominant one in the Commedia. It is a figurative use of language which, in a way, partakes of the metaphoric mode and, thus, problematizes the correlation between a present expression and the absent or not-yet realized content of such an expression. It is an issue of ratio difficilis (difficult correlation) calling into play the metaphoric level of the allegory of the poets which necessitates abduction (or what we commonly call inferencing) to explain the problema- tization of such a correlation. We will mainly examine Dante’s philosophical position as it relates to the linguistic act and how it cannot exclude the dimen- sion of lying in the act itself, insofar as a lie is embedded in the linguistic act motivated by the continuous substitution/postponement of its referent. De Benedict_03.indd 61 22/11/11 10:29 AM 62 wordly wise In Convivio II.i.3,...

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