Dante and Petrarch: The Earthly Paradise Revisited

Bernardo Lecture Series, No. 7

By Sara Sturm-Maddox

Subjects: Medieval Studies, Classics, Italian Studies
Series: The Bernardo Lecture Series
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781586840006, 33 pages, January 1999

Explores the nature and significance of Petrarch’s indebtedness to Dante in the Rime sparse.


Dante and Petrarch: The Earthly Paradise Revisited is the seventh in a series of publications occasioned by the annual Bernardo Lecture at the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) at Binghamton University. This series offers public lectures which have been given by distinguished medieval and Renaissance scholars on topics and figures representative of these two important historical, religious, and intellectual periods.

The nature and significance of Petrarch's indebtedness to Dante in the Rime sparse, Sara Sturm-Maddox argues, is revealed not only in the many individual poems or isolated echoes disclosed by recent studies. Here it is explored in a strategically placed sequence of poems, the well-known canzoni 125-127. In each of them we find the reinscription of elements drawn from the scene of Dante's encounter with Beatrice in the Earthly Paradise. Read together, these poems constitute a rewriting of the episode in the Purgatorio that affords insight into the nature of Petrarch's rivalry with his unacknowledged master. The contrasts that emerge between the scenes as written by Dante and by Petrarch, moreover, have far-reaching implications from the reading of the poet's story in the Rime sparse as a whole.

Sara Sturm-Maddox received her PhD in Romance Philology and Medieval Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has received many awards and honors including an NEH Fellowship. She is the author of four books including Petrarch's Morals and Petrarch's Metamorphoses. In addition, she has written and edited a broad range of works on European Medieval Literature.