The Ultimate Vision: Paradiso 30–33



The final chapter gives a reading of Dante in the Empyrean, God’s dwelling place and where those saints who comprise the saved from the earth are gathered in the celestial Rose. The place of Bernard of Clairvaux, who is Dante’s guide to the names and identities of those in the Rose, is discussed, as is his prayer to the Virgin Mary that Dante may be allowed the ultimate vision, that of God. In the final section of the book, but before the conclusion, there is a close textual reading of the vision of God which Dante has, and connections are made with modern trauma theory, and with the liminal states which Blanchot, as well as Lacan, discusses. The book ends with a sense of what makes everything in the poem so richly textured: the doublenesses and contradictions which make the text unable to affirm a single position, though desiring that.


  1. Aeschylus, 1977, The Oresteia, trans. Robert Fagles, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977.Google Scholar
  2. Ahern, John, 1982, ‘Binding the Book: Hermeneutics and Manuscript production in Paradiso 33’, PMLA, 97: 800–809.Google Scholar
  3. ———, 1983, ‘Dante’s Last Word and the Comedy as a Liber coelestis’, DS 102: 1–14.Google Scholar
  4. Ascoli, Albert Russell, 2008, Dante and the Making of a Modern Author, Cambridge: C.U.P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Auerbach, Erich, 1949, ‘Dante’s Prayer to the Virgin, Paradiso XXXIII and Earlier Eulogies’, Romance Philology 3: 1–26.Google Scholar
  6. Austin, Herbert D., 1929, ‘Dante Notes, XI’, MLN, 44: 315–318.Google Scholar
  7. Austin, Herbert D. and Leo Spitzer, 1937, “Letargo” (Par., XXXIII, 94), MLN 52: 469–475.Google Scholar
  8. Bambeck, Manfred, 1979, ‘Meridiana face di caritate (33.10–11), Studien zu Dantes Paradiso, Wiesbaden: 164–175.Google Scholar
  9. Battistoni, Giorgio, 2007, ‘Dante and the Three Religions’, trans. Kyle M. Hall, DS 125: 249–270.Google Scholar
  10. Benjamin, Walter, 2003, Selected Writings 4: 1938–1940 ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.Google Scholar
  11. Bernardo, Aldo, 1990, ‘Sex and Salvation in the Middle Ages: From the Romance of the Rose to the Divine Comedy’, Italica, 67: 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blanchot, Maurice, 2000, The Instant of My Death, trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg, Stanford: Stanford U.P.Google Scholar
  13. Boitani, Piero, 1978, ‘The Sibyl’s Leaves: A Study of Paradiso XXXIII’, DS 96: 83–126.Google Scholar
  14. Botterill, Stephen, 1994, Dante and the Mystic Tradition: Bernard of Clairvaux in the Commedia, Cambridge: C.U.P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boyde, Patrick, 1981, Dante Philomythes and Philosopher, Cambridge: C.U.P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Curtius E.R., 1953, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages trans. W.R. Trask, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Davies, Oliver, 2007, ‘World and Body: Dante’s Cosmological Hermeneutics’ in John Barnes and Jennifer Petrie (eds.), Dante and the Human Body, Dublin: Four Courts.Google Scholar
  18. Di Scipio, Giuseppe C., 1984, The Symbolic Rose in Dante’s Paradiso, Ravenna: Longo Editore.Google Scholar
  19. Dow, Helen, 1957, ‘The Rose-Window’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 20: 248–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dronke, Peter, 1966, ‘Alanis, Boethius, and Dante’, Romanische Forschungen 78: 119–125.Google Scholar
  21. ———, 1968, Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric 2 vols, Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  22. ———, 1989, ‘Symbolism and Structure in Paradiso 30’, Romance Philology 43: 29–48.Google Scholar
  23. ———, 1994, ‘The Conclusion of Dante’s Commedia’, Italian Studies 59: 21–39.Google Scholar
  24. Elliott, J.K., 1993, The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation Based on M.R. James, Oxford: O.U.P.Google Scholar
  25. Evans, G.R., 1983, The Mind of St Bernard of Clairvaux, Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  26. Fasolini, Diego, 2005, ‘“Illuminating” and “Illuminated” Light: A Biblical-Theological Interpretation of God-as-Light in Canto XXXIII of Dante’s Paradiso’, Literature and Theology 19: 297–310.Google Scholar
  27. Fichera, Eduoardo, 2008, ‘A l’alta fantasia qui mancò possa’: Dante Between Vision and Invention’, Mediterranean Studies 17: 62–76.Google Scholar
  28. Foster, Kenelm, 1977, ‘Dante’s Vision of God’, The Two Dantes and Other Studies, London: Darton, Longman and Todd: 66–85.Google Scholar
  29. France, James, 2007, Medieval Images of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications: 239–263.Google Scholar
  30. Freccero, John, 1986, Dante; The Poetics of Conversion ed. Rachel Jacoff, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.Google Scholar
  31. Fulton, Rachel, 2002, From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800–1200, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gellrich, Jesse M., 1985, The Idea of the Book in the Middle Ages: Language Theory, Mythology, and Fiction, Ithaca: Cornell U.P.Google Scholar
  33. Gilson, Etienne, 1940, The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard trans. A.H. C. Downes, London: Sheed and Ward.Google Scholar
  34. Gunn, Alan, 1952, The Mirror of Love: A Reinterpretation of ‘The Romance of the Rose’, Lubbock: Texas, Texas Tech Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hainsworth, Peter, 1997, ‘Dante’s Farewell to Politics’ in John Woodhouse (ed.), Dante and Governance, Oxford: Clarendon: 152–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hamilton, Ross, 2007, Accident: A Philosophical and Literary History, Chicago: Chicago U.P.Google Scholar
  37. Haskins, Charles Homer, 1927, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.Google Scholar
  38. Herxman Ronald B. and Gary W. Towsley, 1994, ‘Squaring the Circle: Paradiso 33 and the Poetics of Geometry’, Traditio 49: 95–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Holdensried, Anke, 2006, The Sibyl and her Scribes: Manuscripts and Interpretation of the Latin Sibylla Tiburtina, c. 1050–1500, Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  40. Hollander, Robert, 1969, Allegory in Dante’s Commedia, Princeton: Princeton U.P.Google Scholar
  41. Hollister, C. Warren, 1969, The 12th Century Renaissance, New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  42. Horstmann, Carl (ed.), 1892, ‘The Lamentation that was between our Lady and Saint Bernard’ in The Minor Poems of the Vernon MS, part 1, London: EETS: 297–328.Google Scholar
  43. Johnson, James R, 1961, ‘The Tree of Jesse Window of Chartres: Laudes Regiae’, Speculum 36: 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kay, Richard, 2003, ‘Dante’s Empyrean and the Eye of God’, Speculum, 78: 37–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. ———, 2006, Dante’s Enigmas: Medieval Scholasticism and Beyond, Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  46. Lacan, Jacques, 1977, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XI trans. Alan Sheridan, New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  47. ———, 2015, Transference: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VIII ed. Jacques Alain-Miller, trans. Bruce Fink. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  48. ———, 2018, The Sinthome: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XXIII ed. Jacques Alain-Miller, trans. A.R. Price, Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  49. Leclercq, Jean, 1979, Monks and Love in Twelfth-Century France: Psycho-Historical Essays, Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  50. Levine, Robert, 1985, ‘Squaring the Circle: Dante’s Solution’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 86: 280–284.Google Scholar
  51. Leyerle, John, 1977, ‘The Rose-Wheel Design of Dante’s Paradiso’, University of Toronto Quarterly 44: 280–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mazzeo, Joseph, 1958, Structure and Thought in the Paradiso, Ithaca: Cornell U.P.Google Scholar
  53. McGuire, Brian Patrick, (ed.), 2011, A Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux, Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  54. McKay, Alexander G, 1970, Virgil’s Italy, London: Adams and Dart.Google Scholar
  55. McNair, Philip, 2003, Dante the Syncretist, and Other Essays on Italian Studies, Much Hadham: Anastasia Press: 179–185.Google Scholar
  56. Miller, James, (ed.), 2005, Dante and the Unorthodox: The Aesthetics of Transgression, Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier U.P.Google Scholar
  57. Montemaggi, Vittorio, 2016, Reading Dante’s Commedia as Theology: Divinity Realized in Human Encounter, Oxford: O.U.P.Google Scholar
  58. Nardi, Bruno, 1944, ‘Sì come rota ch’igualmente è mossa’, in Nel Mondo di Dante, Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura: 337–350.Google Scholar
  59. Orsbon, David Allison, 2014, ‘The Universe as Book: Dante’s Commedia as an Image of the Divine Mind’, DS 132: 87–112.Google Scholar
  60. Panofsky, Erwin, 1969, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art, New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  61. Parke, H.W., ed. B.C. McGing, 1988, Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy in Classical Antiquity, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  62. Passage, Charles, 1977, trans. The Middle High German Poem of Willehalm by Wolfram of Eschenbach, New York: Frederick Ungar.Google Scholar
  63. Pearsall, Derek and Elizabeth Salter, 1973, Landscapes and Seasons of the Medieval World, London: Paul Elek.Google Scholar
  64. Pertile, Lino, 1991, ‘Canto-Cantica-Comedia e l’epistola a Cangrande’, Lectura Dantis 9: 105–123.Google Scholar
  65. Peters, Edward M., 1972, ‘The Failure of Church and Empire: Paradiso 30, Medieval Studies 34: 326–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pranger, M.B., 2013, ‘Bernard of Clairvaux: Work and Self’ in Mette Birkedal Bruun, The Cambridge Companion to the Cistercian Order, Cambridge: C.U.P.Google Scholar
  67. Reid, Jane Davidson, 1969, ‘The True Judith’, Art Journal 28: 376–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rossi, Albert L., 1985, ‘“Miro gurge”: Virgilian Language and Textual Pattern in the River of Light’, DS 103: 79–101.Google Scholar
  69. Saiber, Arielle, and Aba Mbirika, 2013, ‘The Three “Giri” of Paradiso 33’, DS 131: 237–272.Google Scholar
  70. Sand, Alexa, 2007, ‘A Small Door: Recognising Ruth in the Psalter-Hours “Of Yolande of Soissons”’, Gesta, 46: 19–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sartillot, Claudette, 1993, Herbarium Verbarium: The Discourse of Flowers, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  72. Scott, J. A., 1977, ‘Paradiso XXX’, in David Nolan (ed.), Dante Commentaries: Eight Studies of the Divine Comedy, Dublin: Irish Academic Press: 159–180.Google Scholar
  73. Shaw, Prudence, 1981, ‘Paradiso XXX’ in Kenelm Foster and Patrick Boyde (eds.), Cambridge Readings in Dante’s Comedy, Cambridge: C.U.P., 191–213.Google Scholar
  74. Silverstein, Theodore, 1939, ‘The Throne of the Emperor Henry in Dante’s Paradiso and the Medieval Concept of Christian Kingship’, Harvard Theological Review 32: 115–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. ———, 1949, ‘Dante’s Heavenly Rose: An Analogue or a Borrowing?’, Harvard Theological Review 42: 149–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Skulsky, Susan, 1987, ‘The Sibyl’s Rage and the Marpessan Rock’, The American Journal of Philology 108: 56–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Smith, Roland M. 1946, ‘The Limited Vision of St Bernard’, MLN 61: 38–44.Google Scholar
  78. Taylor, Michael D., 1981, ‘An Historiated Tree of Jesse’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 34/35: 125–176.Google Scholar
  79. Tollesfsen, Torstein T., 2015, ‘Christocentric Cosmology” in Pauline Allen and Bronwen Neil (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford: O.U.P.).Google Scholar
  80. Took, John, 2020, Dante, Princeton: Princeton U.P.Google Scholar
  81. Watts, V.E., 1969, Consolation of Philosophy trans. V.E. Watts, Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  82. Webb, Heather, 2016, Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman, Oxford: O.U.P.Google Scholar
  83. Wiltshire, Susan Ford, 1972, ‘Boethius and the “Summum Bonum”’, The Classical Journal, 67: 216–220.Google Scholar
  84. Witke, Edward Charles, 1959, ‘The River of Light in the Anticlaudianus and the Divina Commedia’, Comparative Literature 11: 144–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

Personalised recommendations