Possibility and the Utopian Imagination in the Poetic Practice of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio
Peripheral but central, external but inner, between being and non-being—possibility has the multi-stable ontology of utopias and their creative and transformative power. Through possibility, writers, philosophers, and artists through the ages have been able to make a place out of a nowhere, and think, express, or experience something that was not there. Crisafi investigates the turning point of 14th-century Italy through the works of its most influential authors, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio.
In their literary writings, possibility constitutes a porous enclave where authors can negotiate, experiment with, and free themselves from the normative exigencies and teleologies of literary conventions, philosophical systems, and religious orthodoxies of their milieu. The ‘utopian imagination’ activated in the ‘space of possibility’ (Jameson, 2005) allows writers to explore alternatives to their own poetic practices, giving them the opportunity to fantasise, provoke, scandalise, and err.