About the author:
Anna V. Toporova, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia; Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya Square bld. 6, GSP-3, 125993 Moscow, Russia.
Although the first histories of Italian literature appeared only in the 18th century, one may call Dante the first person who tried to describe and analyze literary works written in the Italian language (volgare) before him. Throughout his oeuvre, Dante not only described but also championed these works, which had recently replaced Latin literature and needed a justification. Dante was also concerned about affirming his own status as an “author” (auctor) who was on par with the great Latin writers. We examine the different stages of this process in accordance with the genres and goals of Dante’s works The New Life, the treatise De vulgari eloquentia, and Divine Comedy. Dante’s “history of literature” is unique both in content and form, just as he himself holds a unique place in the history of Italian literature.