Dante and Argentine Identity

Heather Sottong
UC Los Angeles

Argentines consider the medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri one of their literary fathers, and Divine Comedy is considered the synthesis of European medieval thought, the Western tradition from which they are descended. Dante’s presence in the Río de la Plata region dates back to the early 1800s and continues to the present. My dissertation inquires into the cultural and historical reasons why Argentine intellectuals during the 19th and 20th centuries consistently called upon Dante as a means to found, develop, and expand her literary tradition. Focusing on the key issues of national unification and the establishment of national identity, my examination of Dante’s afterlife and reception in Argentina examines his presence in the works of the four Argentine authors who are the most representative of the various phases of Dante appropriation: Bartolomé Mitre, Leopoldo Lugones, Jorge Luis Borges, and Leopoldo Marechal.