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viva dante 700Lecture by Emeritus Professor Nerida Newbigin

700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s Death

2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet and man of letters, author of the Divine Comedy and universally considered the father of the Italian language, who passed away on the night between the 13th and the 14th of September 1321.

To commemorate this important anniversary, Italy has established a Dante Day (Dantedì), which will be celebrated on the 25th of March, day on which Dante is supposed to have embarked on his otherworldly journey, narrated in the Divine Comedy. For the occasion, a host of commemorative events have been organized all over the world, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Sydney is planning a rich series of cultural initiatives that will take place throughout 2021.

The importance of Dante in world literature is widely recognized, and two authors well knowndante 2 to the English-speaking public have stated:

Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third (T.S. Eliot)

I love Dante almost as much as the Bible. He is my spiritual food, the rest is ballast (James Joyce)

The inaugural event will be an introductory conference held by Emeritus Professor Nerida Newbigin, an expert in medieval Italian literature, organized in collaboration with the State Library of NSW, which will host a series of other initiatives dedicated to Dante's anniversary during the course of the year with the support of the Department of Italian Studies of the University of Sydney.

When Dante died in exile in 1321, he could scarcely have imagined that we would be celebrating his life and work under the ‘stars of the other pole’ that he had imagined in his Commedia.

Nerida Newbigin’s talk will introduce the man and the book. At the same time, it will look at the way in which Dante’s reputation has been shaped by the artists who illustrated his work in manuscript, the printers who disseminated it, the commentators who threatened to bury it in footnotes, and the tour guides who sell it. But above all, it will suggest ways in which a modern reader can approach Dante’s poem, in Italian or in English, and delight in its poetic and spiritual certainties.

nerida newbiginEmeritus Professor Nerida Newbigin taught Italian language and literature at the University of Sydney, and since retirement in 2008 has continued her research on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Her latest work, a two-volume study of Florentine religious drama entitled Making a Play for God: The Sacre Rappresentazioni of Renaissance Florence, will be published in mid-2021.

Free entry. Booking

Information: State Library of New South Wales


Date: Thursday, March 25, 2021

Time: From 7:00 pm To 8:00 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

In collaboration with : State Library of NSW

Entrance : Free


State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney