Dante's Epistle to Cangrande

Robert Hollander
Essential reading for Dante scholars.


Dante's epistle to Can Grande de la Scala seemingly provides keys to the Divine Comedy; hence it has posed awkward problems for many students of the poet. On one hand, those who discount "authorial intention" are confronted with Dante's own reading of his poem, an apparently explicit statement of his intentions. On the other, the epistle offers information on how to interpret the poem's allegorical elements, which are at odds with modern sensibilities.

In Dante's Epistle to Cangrande Robert Hollander commandingly marshals new evidence to demonstrate that the epistle should be considered authentically Dantean. He further provides enlightening discussion of the nature of tragedy and comedy in the Divine Comedy. The author draws authoritatively on the extensive array of medieval and modern commentaries stored in electronic form by the Dartmouth Dante Project, of which he is the director.

Dante's Epistle to Cangrande makes a signal contribution to Dante studies. Naturally of interest to students of Dante's work, it will also be important reading for those concerned with literary critical questions such as authorial intent, programmatic statements, and allegorical interpretations of literature.

Praise / Awards

  • "[Hollander] has proved beyond any reasonable doubt how intensively, if coyly the Epistle was used. Here he has shown how valuable the Dartmouth Dante Project can be when used in the analysis of texts. . . . [The] gauntlet has been thrown to the opponents of authenticity. It is up to them to reply as well as Hollander has presented his affirmative case."
    --Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • ". . . [a] highly pertinent, useful, and lively addition to the ongoing debate regarding the authenticity of the letter to Can Grande."
  • ". . . offers a detailed account of a debate that has occupied generations of dantisti and is likely to engage many more. . . . Hollander's articulate discussion of modern critical responses to authorship will undoubtedly become a starting point for every study or future scholar interested in this topic. . . ."
    --Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies
  • ". . . [puts] us right into the cockpit of academic controversy. . . . "
    --Times Literary Supplement
  • Winner: International Nicola Zingarelli Prize for Dantean Philology and Criticism

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 128pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1994
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10476-5

Add to Cart
  • $79.95 U.S.



  • Dante, epistle, Guido da Pisa, Commedia, Brugnoli, Baranski, poem, Cangrande, literary criticism, ancient history, antiquity, medieval, renaissance