Dante, Italianists in Sangiuliano: “The Poet belongs to the whole world”

Silvia Tatti, president of the Italianists’ Association: “It is neither right nor left. The very role of culture must not lend itself to political exploitation”

The declaration of the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, on Dante “right-wing writer, indeed founder of right-wing culture, conflicts with the very role of culture which must not lend itself to political exploitation. For us who teach Italian literature at school and at the university and that we train the new generations in responsible citizenship, the development of critical thinking far from any conditioning is the necessary premise on which the very meaning of our work is based”. This was stated by Silvia Tatti, full professor of Italian literature at the ‘La Sapienza’ University of Rome, who issued a statement entitled “Dante on the right? ‘Lungi fia dal becco l’erba!'” as president of the Association of Italianisti, the body that brings together Italian university professors who work in the field of disciplines related to Italian studies.

“Dante is neither of the right nor of the left; the ethical sense of intellectual work, the virtuous exercise of power and freedom of thought are the foundations of his work, which arises precisely from the refusal of any exploitation – explains the president of the Associazione degli Italianisti – He wrote it himself in the words of his teacher Brunetto Latini who, by announcing a glorious destiny to his pupil in canto XV of the Inferno, rescued him from any partisan logic and prophesied ‘that one part and the another will be hungry / for you, but far from the beak the grass’ But even if it weren’t a question of Dante, who is perhaps the writer who best lends himself to a defense of freedom of judgement, the rejection of ahistorical political labels would be worth for any other author: no age and no political party can appropriate writers who belong to the whole world”.

“After all, Dante, the father of the country, the inventor of the Italian language has always aroused attempts at appropriation precisely because he was the greatest interpreter, from the Risorgimento onwards, of national culture – observes Silvia Tatti – And it is precisely on the meaning and function of a national culture that is rather worth questioning again today, in a globalized world that is profoundly different from the Risorgimento era, from fascism, from the post-war period; and this starting precisely from the Italian linguistic and literary tradition which helps us to become aware of our history to place us in the present”.