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Invitations to Participate : Bernard's Sign

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Powlesland, KL 


This essay sets out a case for a ‘participatory’ mode of reading rooted in collaborative engagement with the formal structures of Dante’s Commedia. Deploying new tools relating to embodied simulation from videogame critical theory, the essay suggests that a programme of invitations to the reader’s pre-rational cognitions is embedded in the narrative mechanics of the poem; invitations that impact the depth and modality of her immersion, her sense of presence, and finally her experience of agential participation in the mutable «io» of the poem. Proposing that such invitations are largely undetectable until their visceral and cognitive effects have been triggered, the essay offers as exemplar a new reading of what is described as Bernard’s «interaction émanquée» with the protagonist in Paradiso XXXIII, proposing that Singleton’s diagnosis of an error in Dante’s handling of narrative perspective is a misreading of arguably the most powerful invitation to the reader in the poem.



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Le Tre Corone

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Fabrizio Serra editore