Metamorphosing DanteAppropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First CenturiesVienna: Turia + Kant, 2010
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Cite as: Fabio Camilletti, ‘Human Desire, Deadly Love: The Vita Nova in Gide, Delay, Lacan’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2010), pp. 177–200 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_11>

Human Desire, Deadly LoveThe Vita Nova in Gide, Delay, LacanFabio Camilletti ORCID

Keywords: Alighieri, Dante – Vita nuova; productive reception; psychoanalysis; psychiatry; French literature; Lacan, Jacques; Gide, André; Delay, Jean

The relationship between Dante and psychoanalysis is altogether (to anticipate one of the themes of this essay) a sort of unconsummated love. Both Dante’s and Freud’s works start from the image of a catabasis, safeguarded and sanctioned by Virgil. As Lacan noticed in his seminar Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse (1964): ‘n’oublions pas que Freud, quand il commença de remuer ce monde, articula ce vers, qui paraissait lourd d’inquiétantes appréhensions quand il l’a prononcé, et dont il est bien remarquable que la menace soit, après soixante ans d’expériences, complètement oubliée — Flectere si nequeo superos Acheronta movebo. Il est remarquable que ce qui s’annonçait comme une ouverture infernale ait été dans la suite aussi remarquablement aseptisé.’The absence of Dante from Freud’s reflection is remarkable — not only because psychoanalysis is, as Lacan constantly remarked in the seminar L’éthique de la psychanalyse (1959–60), an intrinsically devilish operation, through which the human psyche is returned to the ‘prince of this world’, Diabolus (I will return to this passage at the end of this essay). In 1990, on the seven hundredth anniversary of the death of Beatrice Portinari, the Italian Dante scholar Guglielmo Gorni bemoaned the fact that ‘tra il Dante della Vita Nuova — così sollecito di sogni, del resto sottoposti all’altrui giudizio; collezionista di memorie d’infanzia; spesso in flagrante situazione di ‘annullamento retroattivo’ (Ungeschehenmachen) e, sempre in gergo tecnico, di ‘abreazione’ in situazioni di smacco —, insomma tra un Dante così apertamente confesso jam a pueris e il perfetto umanista Sigmund Freud è da deplorare un incontro mancato.

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