The Dante research of Aldo Vallone1 spans forty years, from the publication of his Prime noterelle dantesche (1947) and his bibliographic update of N. Zingarelli's Dante, to his recent annotated edition of the Commedia (1985-87)2. To retrace Vallone's Dantesque journey step by step would involve some 200 items, covering the whole spectrum of Dante scholarship and including interpretive studies of individual works as well as surveys of Dante criticism. We can here indicate only the salient moments of Vallone's critical contributions.

      The Vita nuova has frequently engaged Vallone's scholarly interest. His editions of the text appeared in 1954 and, with a critical anthology, in 1972 (the latter was expanded in 1975). His attention to Dante's poetic apprenticeship is documented by the analysis of the first nine chapters of the libello, the lectura of chapter XXV, and the study of the prose connectives in the libello.3 Analogous interest is shown in the studies on Dante's early prose: the essays on Dante's Latin and on the vocabulary, syntax, and style of the Convivio. In these studies Vallone analyzes not only Dante's rhetoric but his «spiritual make-up» as well, underscoring the points of contact with the poetic language of the Commedia.4

      In a revealing passage of his «internal lectura» of Dante's lyric poetry, Vallone reflects on his own methodology: «I propose a reading which aims to illuminate Dante's "lyrical substance". His poetry contains and offers from within all manner of interpretation. My approach is not simply "explaining Dante with Dante". It strives to locate and verify the internal coherence of the poetic text, in which each feature conforms to an internal necessity and has its rationally appointed place within the whole. My reading identifies in the text the subterranean echoes and hidden links between one verse and another; it undertakes to distinguish the vibration and "force of resistance" under the surface of the word. I intend to pinpoint Dante's intimate reasons for the choice of a given word: a choice that cannot be determined solely by personal taste, but always reflects the poet's experience of life, the rules of his art, and the social context. It is a multiform approach that operates simultaneously on more than one level. It allows, encourages, even forces the reader to verify his reading at every step. One textual detail recalls and conditions another; and the sum total coincides with the meaning of the opus. I do not have any doubt that Dante's text should never be considered as an isolated literary experiment. Rather it must be viewed as an integral part of the poet's consciousness of life; an invitation, to himself and to his reader, to an ontological and historical meditation. This is what I mean when I say that the interpretation of a work of art ought to be comprehensive».5

      Vallone proposes to find the internal coherence of a poetic text by assuming as the focal point of his interpretation the poet's personality: as manifested in his manner of facing the realities of life and history, in the relationship he establishes with the world around him. The critic thus reconstructs the unity of the literary «form» in which the substance of the text resides.6 André Pézard has perceptively indicated the two structuring principles (régles dominantes) of Vallone's work in «the minute textual analysis, on the one hand, and a vivid appreciation, on the other, of literature as form __ identified, according to the Crocean tenet, with the substance of the poetic text».7

      We have here a key to Aldo Vallone's approach to Dante's ideology and culture as well: to his essays on the medieval elements in the Dantean opus, on Dante's political thought and on De Monarchia, on the concepts of cortesia and nobiltà, on the Fiore.8 These works are not so much concerned with «locating» Dante within the historical context as with delineating, in the Vichian sense, the poet's conscience, his sentire [or unique way of perceiving reality]. The cornerstone of Vallone's critical thinking is the effort to comprehend Dante's «spirit» (soul and mind) __ in the sense of Vico's definition of comprehension (intelligere) as «the gathering of all the elements needed to express perfectly an idea». Vallone has painstakingly developed whatever «doctrine and competence is necessary to operate with discretion».9 In his own words, «history [i.e., historiography, or a study of the age] and philology are valid instruments in literary criticism only ... insofar as they complement each other, insofar as they fuse into one and jointly establish truth».10

      Vallone places the comprehension of the poet's consciousness in the foreground of his vast surveys of Dante criticism as well, no matter how distant the actual approach must be from the studies on the poetic text. His monumental History of Dante Criticism11 is a significant contribution to our understanding of intellectual history in Italy, if not in Western Civilization at large. Here critical and methodological «false starts» are taken into account, alongside the appreciation of the still valuable insights into poetry in general and Dante's in particular. The result is an instrument of «self-diagnosis», a cathartic pilgrimage for the reader. Vallone's studies have nothing to share with the exhibitionism of the positivistic school. In fact, in his survey of 20th-century Dante research he writes: «Dante's poetry alone withstands the test of time. But in the critical quest for poetic value Dante often becomes (sometimes crudely) a mere pretext, buried under ideological considerations promoted (with a subtlety proportionate to their ability) by certain critics. Reading Dante can indeed become a problem».12

      Vallone's History of Dante Criticism is the fruit of many years of research and the sum of several sectorial studies on the subject13; add to these both his tireless activity as reviewer which has kept him abreast of contemporary developments in Dante scholarship in Italy and abroad, and his seminal examinations of Dante's «presence» in extra-literary areas.14 This vast preparation, grounded in historical research and methodological experience, has accompanied Vallone into his study of the Comedy. Here, again, we must limit our review and indicate only summarily the central features of Vallone's critical interest. We have already reminded the reader of the new commentary to the Comedy and of the volumes on Dante's ideology. Some of the other topics pertaining to Dante's major work explore the meaning of the Veltro, the role of prayer, the figures of Vergil and Beatrice in the poem, Dante's «numbers»15; these specialized studies are accompanied by a vast series of traditional lecturae of individual canti from all three cantiche.16

      These are then the historical and methodological premises of Vallone's work as a «dantista». His methodology is in fact primarily historical, as is evident in his two major Dante volumes (published in the Vallardi series): the monograph17 and the critical history. As for the reception of Vallone's own Dante production, the scholarly world has been unanimous in its appreciation. Typical in this respect are the appraisals of A. Pézard, quoted, A. Pagliaro,18 E. Paratore,19 G. Petrocchi,20 and E. Gilson.21 The testimony of Gilson in particular bears repeating, as a fitting conclusion:

The bibliography on Dante being enormous, it is at least an arduous task to write a monograph which takes all of this background into consideration, and yet does not lose sight of Dante himself at the center of the critical inquiry ... [Vallone has] managed to maintain a perfect balance in this regard ... [His work] will stand as the faithful, late-20th- century, post-Crocean portrait of Dante.

*The Italian text of this «Profilo di A. Vallone dantista» is forthcoming in the Festschrift: Miscellanea di studi offerti a Aldo Vallone, II: Studi danteschi, Florence, Olschki, 1988.

Università di Bari


1 Aldo Vallone was born in Galatina (Lecce) on November 1, 1916. After completing his secondary schooling in Galatina, he attended the Universities of Florence and Turin, graduating with honors at the latter in 1940. He advanced rapidly in his academic career, occupying in turn chairs (from 1942) at the lyceums of Asti, Galatina, and Rome, and filling various administrative positions in the world of secondary education. In 1955 he received his libera docenza [roughly corresponding to the Ph.D. degree], and in the same year he began his college teaching of Italian literature, as an Associate Professor [incaricato] at the Magistero [or Teachers' College] of the University of Lecce. Having won the competition for the Professorship of Dante Philology, he taught from 1967 to 1971 at the Magistero of the University of Bari. In 1972 he was appointed (with unanimous faculty support) to the Chair of Italian Literature at the University of Naples. He has been the Editor (with B. Nardi at first, alone after his co-editor's death) of the journal L'Alighieri: Rassegna bibliografica dantesca. Vallone is a member of various academies in Italy and abroad, such as the «Arcadia» of Rome, the «Pontaniana» of Naples, the «National Association of Sciences, Letters and Arts» (Naples), of which he is an ex-chairman, the «Renaissance Society» of New York, etc. In 1973 Aldo Vallone received from the Italian State the Gold Medal for outstanding cultural service.

2 La Divina Commedia, comm. L. Scorrano & A. Vallone Ferraro, Napoli I-III, 1985-87. Prime noterelle was printed by Stab. Tip. Mariano Galatina (45 pp.).

3 Vita nuova, Rome, Ausonia, 1954 (repr. Turin, Caula, 1966); Vita nuova Bari, Adriatica, 1972 (rev. & repr. as Interpretazione della Vita nuova: introduzione, testo, commento, antologia della critica da D'Ancona a Singleton, Naples, Liguori, 1975); «Apparizioni e disdegno di Beatrice» in AA.VV., Nuove letture dantesche, VIII, Florence, Le Monnier, 1976, pp. 35-51; «Vita Nuova XXV e la cultura di Dante», in AA.VV., Atti dei Convegno di Studi su aspetti e problemi della critica dantesca, Rome, De Luca, 1967, pp. 160-166 (repr. in Ricerche dantesche, Lecce, Millella, 1967, pp. 75-84); La prosa della Vita Nuova, Florence, Le Monnier, 1963.

4 «Il latino di Dante», in Rivista di cultura classica e medievale, VIII (1966), pp. 119-204; «La prosa del Convivio», in Ateneo veneto, spec. n. (1965), pp. 95-144 (repr. in vol. as La prosa del Convivio, Florence, Le Monnier, 1967). Cf. also: «Altri aspetti della sintassi poetica di Dante», in AA.VV., Scritti in onore di Cleto Carbonara, Naples, Giannini, 1976, pp. 996-1006; «Aspetti della sintassi dantesca nella Commedia: il verbo», in AA.VV., Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Linguistica e Filologia Romanza, Naples-Amsterdam, 1977, IV, pp. 589-604.

5 Lettura interna delle Rime di Dante, Rome, Signorelli, 1972, p. 127. Cf. also: «Lettura interna della canzone "Così nel mio parlar voglio esser aspro"», in AA.VV., Letteratura e critica: studi in onore di N. Sapegno, Rome, Bulzoni, 1974, I, pp. 235-269; «Nota al sonetto "Se vedi gli occhi miei"», in Annali della Facoltà di Lettere dell'Università di Napoli, III (1972-73), pp. 71-86.

6 Cf. Dante, Milano, Vallardi, 1971, p. 3.

7 In Journal des savants, October-December, 1972.

8 Studi su Dante medievale, Florence, Olschki, 1965 (it reprints, among others, the essays on «Il mito nel Medioevo e in Dante», 1964, and on «Personificazione, simbolo e allegoria del Medioevo dinanzi a Dante», 1964); «Il pensiero politico-civile di Dante e una possibile datazione della Monarchia», in Annali della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell'Università di Bari, VII (1968), pp. 179-256; La "cortesia" dai Provenzali a Dante, Palermo, Palumbo, 1950; «Il concetto di nobiltà e cortesia nei secc. XIV e XV», in Rendiconti dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, IX (1954), pp. 8-20 (repr. in vol., Nobiltà e cortesia nel Rinascimento, Asti, Arethusa, 1957); Ricerche dantesche, Lecce, Milella, 1967 (reprints the essays on «La componente federiciana della cultura dantesca», 1965, e «"Baldanza", "baldezza" dai Siciliani a Dante», 1966); «Il "Fiore" come opera di Dante», in Studi danteschi, LVI (1984), pp. 141-167.

9 Cf. M. Barbi, La nuova filologia e l'edizione dei nostri scrittori da Dante a Manzoni, Florence, Sansoni, 1938, p. xxv.

10 Dante, cit., p. 5.

11 Storia della critica dantesca dal XIV al XX secolo, I-II, Milan, Vallardi, 1981.

12 La critica dantesca del Novecento, Florence, Olschki, 1976, pp. 7-8.

13 «Bibliografia dantesca, 1940-46», in Antico e nuovo, III (1947), pp. 109-116; Gli studi danteschi dal 1940 al 1949, Florence, Olschki, 1950; La critica dantesca contemporanea, Pisa, Nistri-Lischi, 1953 (1957); La critica dantesca dell'Ottocento, Florence, Olschki, 1958 (1975); La critica dantesca nel Settecento e altri saggi danteschi, Florence, Olschki, 1961; Aspetti dell'esegesi dantesca nel Settecento attraverso testi inediti, Lecce, Milella, 1966 (it also reprints the essays «Trifone Gabriele e Bernardino Daniello dinanzi a Dante», 1962; «Un momento della critica dantesca nel tardo Cinquecento», 1962-63; «Progresso o dicasi "processo" della "Disputa sopra la Commedia di Dante"», 1963; «La linea esegetica Benvenuto, Landino, Vellutello», 1966); «Minori aspetti dell'esegesi dantesca nel Settecento attraverso testi inediti», in Filologia e letteratura XII (1966), repr. in Ricerche dantesche, Lecce, Milella, 1967; Dantismo romagnolo nel secondo Ottocento attraverso testi inediti Ravenna, Longo, 1966; Capitoli pascoliano-danteschi con inediti, Ravenna, Longo, 1967; L'interpretazione di Dante nel Cinquecento, Florence, Olschki, 1969; «Il tema Dante nel XIV secolo», in Annali della Facoltà di Lettere dell'Università di Napoli, V (1974-75), pp. 109-121; «Guido da Pisa nella critica dantesca del Trecento», in Critica letteraria, III (1975) pp. 435-469; «Buti nella critica dantesca del Trecento», in Accademie e biblioteche d'Italia, XLV (1977), pp. 428-437; «Coluccio Salutati e l'umanesimo fiorentino dinanzi a Dante», in Zeitschrift für romanisches Philologie, XCIV (1978), pp. 69-82; Problemi e profili del dantismo otto-novecentesco, Napoli, Liguori, 1985 (it repr. the essays on «Studiosi di Dante in Puglia», 1966; «N. Zingarelli dantista», 1969; «De Sanctis e Dante», 1983; «Croce e Dante», 1985).

14 E.g., «Le citazioni dantesche negli scrittori legali», in AA.VV., Letture classensi, XVI, Ravenna, Longo, 1987, pp. 9-26.

15 Del Veltro dantesco, Alcamo, Accademia di Studi "Ciullo d'Alcamo", 1954; «Note dantesche: ancora del Veltro e della preghiera di S. Bernardo», in Letterature moderne, VII (1957), pp. 735-738, «La preghiera in Dante», in AA.VV., La preghiera, ed. R. Boccassino, Rome Coletti, 1967, III, pp. 321-350; «Interpretazioni del Virgilio dantesco» in L'Alighieri, X (1969), #1, pp. 14-40; «Beatrice», in AA.VV. Realtà e simbolo della donna nella Commedia, ed. P. Sabbatino Pompei, Biblioteca L. Pepe, 1987; «Beatrice», in Enciclopedia dantesca, Rome, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia italiana, 1970, I, pp. 542-551 (other entries by Vallone in the Enciclopedia: «Compagni, Dino», «Fiammazzo Antonio», «Gaspary, Adolfo», «Giordano da Pisa», «Gratarolo Bongianni», «Lectura Dantis», «Maffei, Scipione», «Pagliaro, Antonino», «Parenti, Marcantonio», «Puglia, fortuna di Dante in» «Venturi, Pompeo», «Zingarelli, Nicola»); «Interpretazioni del numero dantesco», in La nuova antologia, # 2098 (October, 1975), pp. 227-235.

16 Inferno: «Inferno VII», in AA.VV. Lectura Dantis Scaligera, Florence Le Monnier, 1960 (repr. in Studi su Dante medievale, Florence, Olschki 1965, pp. 143-160; «A proposito di Inf. VIII: "Io dico seguitando"», in AA.VV., Dal Medioevo al Petrarca: studi in onore di Vittore Branca, Florence, Olschki, 1983, I, pp. 285-287; «Il canto IX dell'Inferno», in AA.VV., Nuove letture dantesche, I, Florence, Le Monnier, 1966, pp. 237-260; «El canto IX del Inferno y los elementos murales del Inferno» in Palabras, XXXV (1966), pp. 189-222; «Genesi e associazione della tematica dantesca (a proposito di Inf. XII)», in Atti e memorie dell'Accademia dell'Arcadia, VI (1975-76), pp. 45-65; «Il canto XIV dell'Inferno e la sperimentazione in Dante», in Annali della Facoltà di Lettere dell'Università di Napoli, IV (1973-74), pp. 81-101 (repr. rev. in AA.VV., Inferno: Letture degli anni 1973-76, Rome, Bonacci, 1977, pp. 361-384); Lectura Dantis Romana: Inferno XVI, Turin, SEI, 1959 (repr. in Studi su Dante medievale, Florence, Olschki, 1965, pp. 179-206); «Inf. XVI, 106-114», in L'Alighieri, III (1962), #2, pp. 25-28; Lectura Dantis Romana: Inf. XXIV, Turin, SEI, 1959 (repr. in Studi su Dante medievale, Florence, Olschki, 1965, pp. 207-226); Lectura Dantis Neapolitana: Inf. XXV, Naples, Loffredo, 1983 (repr. in AA.VV., Inferno, ed. P. Giannatonio, Naples, Loffredo, 1986, pp. 487-503); «Inf. XXVII, 21», in Lettere italiane, XI (1959), pp. 224-227 (repr. in La critica dantesca nel Settecento e altri saggi danteschi, Florence, Olschki, 1961, pp. 80-84); «Il canto XXXIV dell'Inferno e l'estremo intellettualismo di Dante», in AA.VV., Nuove letture dantesche, III, Florence, Le Monnier, 1969, pp. 189-208);
Purgatorio: Purgatorio IV, Napoli, Conte, 1953 (repr. in Studi sulla Commedia, Florence, Olschki, 1955, and in AA.VV., Purgatorio: Lecture degli anni 1976-79, Rome, Bonacci, 1981, pp. 79-99; Lectura Dantis Romana: Purg. XI, Turin, SEI, 1961 (repr. in Studi su Dante medievale, Florence, Olschki, 1965, pp. 227-246, and. rev. in AA.VV., Nuove letture dantesche, IV, Florence, Le Monnier, 1970, pp. 81-103); «Purg. XII», in Convivium, XXVIII (1960), pp. 385-396 (repr. in La critica dantesca nel Settecento e altri saggi danteschi, Florence, Olschki, 1961, pp. 104-118); «Marco Lombardo», in AA.VV., L'uomo di Dante e Dante uomo, ed. P. Sabatino, Pompei, Biblioteca L. Pepe, 1985, pp. 13-33; «Isidoro di Siviglia e Purg. XXVIII, 139-144», in Studi danteschi, XXXV (1958), pp. 259-262; «La processione del XXIX del Purg. e il medievalismo di Dante», in Deutsches Dante Jahrbuch, LV-LVI (1980-81), pp. 50-68 (cf. also in AA.VV., Purgatorio: letture degli anni 1976-79, Rome, Bonacci, 1981, pp. 675-694);
Paradiso: «Proposta di lettura: il canto VII del Par.», in L'Alighieri, XII (1972), #2, pp. 51-68; «Par. VIII», in Humanitas, XIV (1959), pp. 277-295 (repr. in La critica dantesca nel Settecento e altri saggi danteschi, Florence, Olschki, 1961, pp. 119-136); «Par. IX», in AA.VV., Nuove letture dantesche, IV, Florence, Le Monnier, 1973, pp. 45-68; «Par. XI», in AA.VV., La dimensione umana e la prospettiva divina in Dante, ed. P. Sabbatino, Pompei, Biblioteca L. Pepe, 1984, pp. 13-38; Lectura Dantis Romana: Par. XV, Turin, SEI, 1965; «Il canto XXV del Par. e il posto della religione», in Deutsches Dante Jahrbuch, IL-L (1974-75), pp. 36-52; «Il canto XXX del Par. e la luce intellettuale», in L'Alighieri, XXVII (1986), #2, pp. 63-78 (see also, in AA.VV., Il Paradiso: letture degli anni 1980-82, Rome, Bonacci, 1987).

17 The first ed. of 1971 was followed by an updated repr. in 1973; the second ed. is of 1981: this has the added chapter on «Tecnica e formazione della poesia dalle Rime alla Commedia».

18 «Il Dante di Aldo Vallone», in La rassegna pugliese, VII (1972), pp. 199-206.

19 In Nuovi studi danteschi, Rome, Signorelli, 1973, p. 228.

20 In Il tempo, February 19, 1982.

21 We furnish here a selective survey of appraisals: U. Leo, «Aldo Vallone und die Fortuna Dantis», Deutsches Dante Jahrbuch, XLI-XLII (1964), pp. 212-220; A. Ciotti & L. Malagoli, Recenti studi danteschi di A. Vallone con testimonianze di E. Gilson, H. H. Hatzfeld, e D. Alonso, Rome 1972; P. Giannantonio, «Vallone, Aldo», in Enciclopedia dantesca, V, Rome, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, 1975, p. 870; M. Szabó, «Egy dantológus életmüve: Aldo Vallone» in Filológiai közlöny, XI (1965) pp. 235-238; A. Buck, in Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, XXIX (1963), pp. 293-295, and XL (1974), pp. 420-425; see also the same in Deutsches Dante Jahrbuch, LVIII (1983), pp. 167-171; K. Morawski, in Kwartalnik neofiloloczny, X (1963), pp. 80-82, XI (1964), pp. 88-89, XVI (1969), pp. 193-194, XIX (1972), pp. 453-455; T. Wlassics, in Forum italicum, V (1972), pp. 607-611; R. Frattarolo, «Dante e la critica dantesca negli studi di A. Vallone», in Accademie e biblioteche d'Italia, LII (1984), pp. 3-23 (and see also, by the same, the bibliography of Aldo Vallone's writings in the first part, Studi meridionali, of this Festschrift).