“Simulacra Nostra”: The Problem of Desire in Dante’s Vita Nuova

  • Robert R. Edwards
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Dante’s Vita nuova is a work of sustained erotic and poetic revision. Using the retrospect of Augustine’s conversion narrative, Dante transcribes the meaning (“sentenzia”), if not the actual words, of an imagined text located under the rubric “Incipit vita nuova”in his metaphoric book of memory.1 As compiler, commentator, and narrator, he omits fictional text above the rubric, which is scant or illegible or both (”poco si potrebbe leg-gere”), as well as writing found below it, which supposedly has no bearing on his master narrative of reform and renovation. The narrative trajectory that Dante follows as the protagonist of his libello moves through selected encounters with Beatrice and her avatars and onwards to Beatrice’s sudden yet foretold death and thereafter to Dante’s efforts not just to mourn but to understand his loss. As in Augustine, key events proleptically anticipate a future that is already fixed.2 Advancing through these stages, Dante ostensibly leaves behind an earthly attachment based on his demands as a lover and comes to embrace a disinterested and objectified spiritual love that exists beyond yet informs and makes intelligible his individual experience.


Dead Figure Terminus Link Lyric Ideology Master Narrative Affective Bond 


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© Robert R. Edwards 2006

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  • Robert R. Edwards

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