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Afterword: Forgiveness, Prayer and the Meaning of Poetry


  • Vittorio Montemaggi

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Notre Dame
    • Correspondence: Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Notre Dame, 343 O'Shaughnessy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. Email:

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The aim of this afterword is – interrogatively – to complement and compliment the preceding papers by raising some general questions concerning the relationship between poetry and forgiveness, and to do so through reflection on the work of two authors who wrote well before the period explored by the essays in the collection, yet whose influence extends significantly into it. The paper will reflect, in particular, on the way in which Dante's Purgatorio and Shakespeare's The Tempest foreground the question of forgiveness by calling for the prayers of their audience in ways that coincide with these texts' self-conscious presentation of themselves as literary artifacts. By focusing specifically on the opening of Purgatorio XI and the Epilogue of The Tempest and by suggesting an inextricable connection in these texts between meaning and the recognition of one's shortcomings, I aim to point to the value that certain perspectives on the relationship between poetry and forgiveness might have for our understanding of the meaning of poetry and of the nature of our relationship with it.

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