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Furthermore, the introduction and debate are set in the magnificent Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome, which accentuates the distinctly academic tone of the affair, and serves, of course, to distance its audience even further. The production is sensitive neither to the language of television nor to the telepotential language of Dante's Comedy. As a classroom aid, it can be used to impart information and little more: however, the information could be conveyed better through the more traditional pedagogical genre of the formal lecture, with a few slides thrown in.

RAI has put the book on TV: the result is a hybrid that is neither. The Castle of Memory in a manuscript of Li Bestiaires d'amours. Dante and his poem. View of Florence. Detail from the "Madonna della Miseri- cordia" fresco in the Orfanotrofio del Bigallo, Florence Luna and her influence. De sphaera. Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Ms. Cathedral Ship. New York, Pierpont Morgan Ms.

Purgatorio 2. The ship of the souls. Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Ms. World map. Ebstorf, Germany.

ALIENAZIONE GLI ESSENZIALI ITALIAN Original (PDF)

Destroyed ca. God shows Death to the fallen Adam and Eve in a manuscript of St. Augustine's De civitate Dei. Dante, Television, and Education 1 9 2. One can enter the house of Memory, Richard explains, either through the door of sight painting or through the door of hearing speech : For when one sees a story painted, whether a story of Troy or of some other thing, one sees the deeds of the brave men who were there in past times as if they were present.

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And so it is with speech. For when one hears a tale read, one perceives the wondrous deeds as if one were to see them taking place. And since what is past is made present by those two means, that is by painting and speech, therefore it is clear that by these two things one can come to remembrance. Dante's iconography of damnation and salvation, familiar to his first audiences, has today largely been lost. Following a process sim- ilar to the one described by Richard de Fournival, the University of Toronto project attempts to reconstruct televisually this iconography, which Dante's powerful verbal imagery would trigger in the minds of his contemporaries.

It does so using manuscript illuminations and various other visual images, all of which, even those from late sources, belong to Dante's and his original public's cultural patri- mony and memory. Manuscript illuminations have been privileged because they are small — the Italian term for illumination is, in fact, miniatura — flat, and often ill-defined, all characteristics which make them ideally suited to television, with its small screen and relatively low definition.

The TV image, and especially one thus delineated, flattens, foreshortens, and blurs distinctions, creating the impression of simultaneous presence in a manner akin to that of oral-manuscript culture. The historical repositioning I propose corresponds to the following operation. First, the student is removed from in front of 20 Amilcare A. This well-known painting, which has become synonymous with Dante, shows the poet in the fore- ground holding his Comedy open in his hand, its pages facing the viewer.

The left foreground and the background are occupied by the three realms of the afterlife; to the right is a view of Florence domi- nated by Brunelleschi's majestic cupola figure 2. Once the student has been deprived of this anachronistic perspective, he is offered in its place the crowded confusion of the splendid, foreshortened rep- resentation of Florence in the "Madonna della Misericordia" fresco in the Orfanotrofio del Bigallo in Florence figure 3.

In this manner the three-dimensional "visual" space of the Renaissance is replaced by the flat, "acoustic" space of the Middle Ages McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy 19 , which our new electronic environment, to a great extent, recreates. The technique used to make the programmes is straightforward: the images mostly miniatures, as already indicated are projected onto one or more screens, filmed, and then edited in order to cre- ate the illusion of motion and to construct a coherent narrative and commentary.

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The script is read by a professional narrator who does not appear on screen. Finally, original music is added. The perspec- tive and imagery thus reclaimed are used to illustrate key aspects of Dante's poem, whether they be thematic, structural, or other. Most of the images are necessary to recreate the context and the narrative. Some of the context-building illustrations are taken from illuminated manuscripts of the Divine Comedy. However, these manuscripts yield relatively few images, since Dante's early illustra- tors rarely dedicated more than one or two miniatures to each canto. Furthermore, illuminations from this source, with a few notable ex- ceptions, seldom take us below the surface of the text Brieger, Meiss, and Singleton in Illuminated Manuscripts.

In other words, these pictures can often provide the divisione but seldom the ragion- ata cagione, to use Dante's own critical categories. On the other hand, there are some images, deriving from a variety of sources, which serve a precise, exegetical function, clarifying especially the "altra polisemia" of the literal narrative. I shall use the Ulysses pro- gramme, the first in the series , as an example. Consider the image of the moon in Inferno 26, usually interpreted in terms of the Dante, Television, and Education 21 poem's formal allegory, i. However, the traditional iconography of the goddess Luna suggests other, more allusive, interpretative possibilities which ob- viously have some bearing on the episode's significance.

Luna was the protector of sailors and patron of folly. She was also closely as- sociated with Fortune, and hence tragic reversal. Indeed, she is often represented as balanced on wheels, as she is in a fifteenth century illustration from the De sphaera which we used in the programme despite its late source because of its beauty and clarity figure 4.

Less often, an image can illuminate the more formal, structured polysemy of Dante's text. The Cathedral Ship figure 5 , driven by Christ's passion, is almost certainly the model for the angel-propelled ship figure 6 which transports the saved from the mouth of the Tiber to the shores of Mount Purgatory. All four carry a similar cargo: the saved. Perhaps the most obvious image of this sort in the Ulysses programme is the thirteenth century Ebstorf mappa mundi figure 7 , in which the figure of Christ is actually superimposed on the known world, divided according to the familiar T and pattern figure 8.

The meaning is evident, and dramatically brings into focus the Ulysses' episode's dominant metaphor. To be saved, one must stay within the bounds. Spiritual limits are defined in geographical terms.

The Pil- lars of Hercules stand as an imperative: do not overstep the bounds! Ulysses does: he follows the setting sun, symbol of Adam's fall, sails into darkness, and ends in shipwreck. At the tropological level, Ulysses' example warns Dante's Christian audience of the perils of spiritual transgression.

Words and pictures are only part of the meaning-generating strategy in these televisual commentaries. A complex series of other factors also gen- erate meaning: these range from the angle and motion of the camera to the tone of the narrator's voice, from the graphics to the sound 22 Amilcare A. For example, music contributes significantly to the production of meaning. The Ulysses programme is, among other things, an ac- count of various "sea" journeys.

It starts by contrasting the circular pattern of the homeward-bound Homeric hero to the linear trajectory of Dante's Ulysses. The latter's last, doomed voyage is then com- pared to the successful journeys of Aeneas, the purgatorial souls, and Dante himself. Each has its music. For instance, the musical themes of the two Ulysses emphasize their differing destinies: one creates a sense of closure, the other of opening, but an opening which sug- gests from the outset the inevitability of shipwreck. In contrast, the celestial ship of Purgatorio 2 sails to the steady militaristic beat of a motif which recalls In exitu Israel de Aegypto.

The other televisual commentaries in the series are similarly fash- ioned. Its archetype is traced to the adultery of Venus and Mars, called by Ovid "the best-known story in all heaven. The stage upon which his Comedy unfolds is the cosmos. The result is an entertaining, postmodern collage of televisual styles, an exercise which is not dissimilar in spirit to Dante's conscious mixing of styles or plurilinguism in the episode. In Inferno 5 we move from the low grotesque style of the Minos sequence to a realistic description of the infernal storm to an epic catalogue of famous lovers, and finally, in the Francesca part of the episode, from the language of the dolce stil nuovo to the more realistic language of prose romance Poggioli , all within the frame Dante, Television, and Education 23 of chronicle.

How do Grcenaway and Phillips handle these shifts in style? They translate them into contemporary filmic or televisual equivalents.

OF THE TRIO WHAT Original (PDF)

They use Fellinesque imagery for Minos and the sinners, a televised weather warning about an approaching tornado in the southern USA for the bufera infernale, and the distinctive, snapshot style of British television documentaries for the epic catalogue. Then, in the Francesca segment, they play with the conventions of romance, repeating, for instance, Francesca's crucial "Lancelot" speech three times, each in a different tone. The first part of the programme, until the whirlwind dies down and the two condemned lovers step forward, moves at feverish speed.

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We are bombarded by hundreds of repulsive sounds and images, held together by quick cuts. Moreover, the screen is often broken up, thus multiplying the infernal imagery and reinforcing the overwhelming sense of moral disorder and chaos. Through these and other tele- visual techniques, Greenaway and Phillips manage to restore to the episode's setting and contrapasso a rawness which time and com- mentary had largely subdued.

While today's students might be shocked by the raw and explicit imagery, they would certainly appreciate the hectic pace of the pro- gramme.


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Televisually literate, they regularly practise the art of "zap- ping" or "systematic switching" Palmer 79 , which allows them to construct a viewing experience of fragments. This video might even make them aware that Dante does something very similar with the stylistic codes of his time, which he juxtaposes and fuses with dis- arming ease, moving from the grotesque to the sublime and back at will.

The Greenaway-Phillips video contains a number of other insights into the workings of Dante's text, which are expressed not only through the rapid accumulation of images but also through the techniques of the medium itself: the use of black and white, colour, computer graphics, odd camera angles, sound effects, and so on. Sometimes words are so powerful that they cannot be translated into images: they must be rendered in the imagery of the words themselves.

When Virgil warns Minos vv. Her face fills the screen while flames burn through her skull-like mouth and eye sockets. The scene is disconcerting in its interpreta- tive accuracy: Francesca burns and dies in the fire of illicit passion.


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The sin becomes the punishment. This idea is brought into dra- matic focus, again through the imaginative use of televisual devices in the three versions of Francesca's "Lancelot" speech v.