sort to see how, from being the slave of his imaginative faculty, he rose by self-culture and force of will to that mastery of it which is art. We comprehend the Commedia
better when we know that Dante
could be an active, clear-headed politician and a mystic at the same time.
Various dates have been assigned to the composition of the Vita Nuova
. The earliest limit is fixed by the death of Beatrice
in 1290 (though some of the poems are of even earlier date), and the book is commonly assumed to have been finished by 1295; Foscolo says 1294.
But Professor Karl Witte
, a high authority, extends the term as far as 1300.1
The title of the book also, Vita Nuova
, has been diversely interpreted.
, who published an English version of it at Florence
in 1846, entitles it the ‘Early Life of Dante
understands it in the same way.2
But we are strongly of the opinion that ‘New Life’ is the interpretation sustained by the entire significance of the book itself.
His next work in order of date is the treatise De Monarchia
. It has been generally taken for granted that Dante
was a Guelph in politics up to the time of his banishment, and that out of resentment he then became a violent Ghibelline.
Not to speak of the consideration that there is no author whose life and works present so remarkable a unity and logical sequence as those of Dante
, Professor Witte
has drawn attention to a fact which alone is enough to demonstrate that the De Monarchia
was written before 1300.
That and the Vita Nuova
are the only works of Dante
in which no allusion whatever is made to his exile.
That bitter thought was continually present to him. In the Convito