Portrait of Gianfranco Contini

Gianfranco Contini (Domodossola, 1912–1990), one of the great philologists of the twentieth century, studied the Rose in relation to one of its most illustrious readers, Dante Alighieri. There are echoes of the Rose in the Divine Comedy but Dante’s relationship to the French romance may have gone further. The Fiore (‘flower’) is a Tuscan retelling of the Rose (preserved in only one witness: Montpellier, Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire, H438). The question of its authorship continues to spark much debate among critics. Contini demonstrated, mainly on a stylistic basis, that it is conceivable and even likely that the Fiore is an early work by Dante.

Photograph: Famiglia Contini, used by courtesy of Fondazione Ezio Franceschini.

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