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Wordly Wise

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


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 FiveThe Semiotics of Discourse in the Commedia


the semiotics of discourse in the commedia · 5 · To re-enact Dante’s experience through a journey of interpretation means to experience and to appropriate truth from the inside, “as an order of significance and being, rather than only as a trace or remnant of itself in the form of philo- logical object or cultural artifact”1 in a verisimilar fashion. It is the experience of truth lived in and through the work of art that will constitute the focus of this part of our study. 5.1 The Semiotics of Discourse in the Commedia and the Role of the Reader From the outset, we need to recognize that the text of the Commedia is not a complete text as it is in its physical-linguistic state, but needs to be lived and experienced by means of an existential presence and the dynamic role 1. William Franke, Dante’s Interpretive Journey (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 2. The notion of experiencing and appropriating truth from the inside aims at emphasiz- ing cohesively the achievement of meaning through being with the text, as a lived experience of reading. On this point see also Martin Heidegger, Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes, in Holzwege (Klostermann: Frankfurt am Main, 1950), trans. A. Hofstandter as “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1971); Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1960), trans. D. Marshall and J. Weisheimer as Truth and Method , 2nd ed., rev. (New York: Crossroad,...

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