La Vita Nuova or Vita Nova is a text by Dante Alighieri published in 1294. It is an expression of the medieval genre of courtly love in a prosimetrum style, a combination of both prose and verse.
Referred to by Dante as his libello, or "little book", The New Life is the first of two collections of verse written by Dante in his life. La Vita Nuova is a prosimetrum, a piece containing both verse and prose, in the vein of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. Dante used each prosimetrum as a means for combining poems written over periods of roughly ten years—La Vita Nuova contains his works from before 1283 to roughly 1293. The collection and its style fit in with the movement called Dolce Stil Novo.
The prose creates the illusion of narrative continuity between the poems; it is Dante's way of reconstructing himself and his art in terms of his evolving sense of the limitations of courtly love (the system of ritualized love and art that Dante and his poet-friends inherited from the Provençal poets, the Sicilian poets of the court of Frederick II, and the Tuscan poets before them). Sometime in his twenties, Dante decided to try to write love poetry that was less centered on the self and more aimed at love as such: he intended to elevate courtly love poetry, many of its tropes and its language, into sacred love poetry. Beatrice for Dante was the embodiment of this kind of love—transparent to the Absolute, inspiring the integration of desire aroused by beauty with the longing of the soul for divine splendor.
The first full translation into English was by Joseph Garrow and it was published in 1846.
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