Dante da Maiano
He may have been a Provençal- or Auvergnat-speaker from Maillane (the birthplace of Frédéric Mistral), but more probably he was from the Tuscan village of Maiano near Fiesole. In 1882 Adolfo Borgognoni argued that he was an invention of Renaissance philology, but met with the opposition of F. Novati in 1883 and Giovanni Bertacchi in 1896. Bertacchi argued that Dante da Maiano was the same person as the Dante Magalante, son of ser Ugo da Maiano, who appears in a public record of 1301. At the time this Dante was living in the monastery of San Benedetto in Alpe and was requested in mundualdum by a relative of his, Lapa, widow of Vanni di Chello Davizzi, to be her tutor. That a Dante da Maiano existed during the lifetime of Dante Alighieri and that he was capable of "tutoring" was thus established, but the identification with the poet could not be made certain. Santorre Debenedetti finally disproved Borgognoni's thesis in 1907. He discovered two Occitan sonnets ascribed to Dante da Maiano in a fifteenth-century Italian manuscript conserved in the Biblioteca Laurentiana, Florence.
Almost all Dante's extant work is preserved in the Giuntina (or "Junte"), a Florentine chansonnier compiled in 1527 under the title Sonetti e canzoni di diversi avtori toscani in dieci libri raccolte by Filippo Giunti. His total work is some forty-eight sonnets, five ballate, two canzoni, and a series of tenzoni with Dante Alighieri. He was influenced by the troubadours (notably Bernart de Ventadorn), the Sicilian School and in particular Giacomo da Lentini, the Tuscan School of Guittone d'Arezzo, and the later dolce stil novo, though he belongs to none of these. Rosanna Betarrini calls his work a "pastiche" and Antonio Enzo Quaglio a silloge archeologica della produzione anteriore e contemporanea ("an archaeological collection of past and contemporary production").
Dante da Maiano wrote a sonnet in response to A ciascun' alma presa e gentil core, the first sonnet in Dante Alighieri's Vita nuova. There was also a five-part exchange (probably preceding the Vita nuova) called the duol d'amore ("dolour of love"), in which Dante da Maiano wrote three pieces and Dante Alighieri responded to the first two. In a final two-part communication, Dante Alighieri wrote Savere e cortesia, ingegno ed arte to Dante da Maiano's Amor mi fa sì fedelmente amare. In all their correspondence, the elder Dante assumes an air of superiority towards his up-and-coming interlocutor, the future author of the Divine Comedy. Before Dante Alighieri's career had taken off, the elder Dante was for a time quite famous in Florence for his sonnet Provedi, saggio, ad esta visïone, in which he recounts a dream he had and asks his fellow citizens for an interpretation. Chiaro Davanzati, Guido Orlandi, Salvino Doni, Ricco da Varlungo, Cino da Pistoja and Dante Alighieri, in what was to be his earliest still-extant poem, all responded. Dante da Maiano, along with Cino da Pistoja, also wrote a response to a sonnet (Guido, vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io) that Alighieri sent to his friend Guido Cavalcanti.
According to later stories now generally accepted as only legend, Dante also kept up a correspondence with Nina of Sicily, the first Italian poetess, and with whom he fell in love. Their relationship became well-known and she grew in fame because of his writings so that she was called la Nina di Dante. She took up poetry, apparently, as a result of his influence.
Víctor Balaguer published the Occitan sonnet Las! so qe m'es el cor plus fis e qars in 1879, where he also hypothesised for Dante a birthplace in Provence. Despite these Occitan sonnets and Dante's more probable birthplace in Tuscany, Giulio Bertoni disqualifed Dante from being an "Italian troubadour" in his 1915 study. By one reckoning, Dante's Occitan sonnets are the earliest examples of what is undisputedly an Italian form, but the invention of which is usually assigned to Giacomo da Lentini.
Complete list of works
- Pierre Bec, "Les deux sonnets occitans de Dante Da Maiano (XIIIe siècle)", Perspectives médiévales, Congrès Languedoc et langue d'oc. Colloque, Toulouse, 22 (1996), pp. 47–57.
- Santorre Debenedetti, "Nuovi studí sulla Giuntina di rime antiche", Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 50 (1907).
- F. Montanari, "L'esperienza poetica di Dante fino alla Vita Nuova", Lettere italiane, 7:3 (1955:July/Sept.).
- Robin Kirkpatrick, "Dante's Beatrice and the Politics of Singularity", Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 32:1 (1990:Spring).
- Piero Cudini, "La tenzone tra Dante e Forese e la Commedia (Inf. XXX; Purg. XXIII–XXIV)", Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 159:505 (1982).
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- Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed., Dante and His Circle: With the Italian Poets Preceding Him, (1100–1200–1300): A Collection of Lyrics (Roberts Brothers, 1887).
- Presents colourful English translations of Dante de Maiano's exchanges with Dante Alighieri (pp. 127–9).
- Spanish commentary and text of Las! so qe m'es el cor plus fis e qars (pp. 117–8).
- Dante da Maiano's correspondence with Dante Alighieri, with English translations:
- Michael Papio (2004), "Dante da Maiano", Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia, Christopher Kleinhenz and John W. Barker, edd. (London: Routledge), p. 290.
- The manuscript, in cursive on paper, known as troubadour c, is Laurenziano XC. inf. 26.
- "Sonnets and songs by diverse Tuscan authors, collected in ten books".
- P. Stoppelli, "Dante da Maiano", Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XXXII (Rome: Società Grafica Romana, 1986), p. 656.
- Guido Cavalcanti and Terino da Castelfiorentino also responded to Alighieri (Stopppelli, 657).
- The name duol d'amore comes from F. Pelligrini and is not original.
- Stoppelli, 657.
- She is only called Monna Nina by Dante, the "of Sicily" coming from Leo Allatius, Poeti antichi (Naples: 1661).
- Giulio Bertoni (1967), I Trovatori d'Italia: Biografie, testi, tradizioni, note (Rome: Società Multigrafica Editrice Somu).
- Henry John Chaytor (1912), The Troubadours (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 106.