Dante and the Sense of Transgression: 'The Trespass of the Sign'

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A&C Black, Nov 22, 2012 - Literary Criticism - 192 pages
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In Dante and the Sense of Transgression, William Franke combines literary-critical analysis with philosophical and theological reflection to cast new light on Dante's poetic vision. Conversely, Dante's medieval masterpiece becomes our guide to rethinking some of the most pressing issues of contemporary theory.

Beyond suggestive archetypes like Adam and Ulysses that hint at an obsession with transgression beneath Dante's overt suppression of it, there is another and a prior sense in which transgression emerges as Dante's essential and ultimate gesture. His work as a poet culminates in the Paradiso in a transcendence of language towards a purely ineffable, mystical experience beyond verbal expression. Yet Dante conveys this experience, nevertheless, in and through language and specifically through the transgression of language, violating its normally representational and referential functions. Paradiso's dramatic sky-scapes and unparalleled textual performances stage a deconstruction of the sign that is analyzed philosophically in the light of Blanchot, Levinas, Derrida, Barthes, and Bataille, as transgressing and transfiguring the very sense of sense.
 

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Contents

Chapter 1 Dantes Implication in the Transgressiveness He Condemns
3
Part 1 Language and Beyond
17
Part 2 Authority and Powerlessness Kenosis
105
Part 3 Transgression and Transcendence
131
Levinasian Transcendence and the Ethical Vision of the Paradiso
151
Notes
177
Index
197
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About the author (2012)

William Franke is Professor of Comparative Literature and Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University, USA. He is an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Fellow, a previous Fulbright University of Salzburg Distinguished Chair in Intercultural Theology and his published books include Dante's Interpretive Journey and Poetry and Apocalypse: Theological Disclosures of Poetic Language.

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