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VALENTINE’S DAY/ Against the reduction of love to a neurosis, let’s return to Dante

DAVIDE RONDONI comments on the phenomenon of Valentine’s Day and how the meaning of love has changed since the time of Dante, going from a force outside the person to a simple feeling.

Dante Alighieri   (Fotolia) Dante Alighieri (Fotolia)

"Love is always love, there is no question, but the difference is that modern man, when he talks about love, describes a feeling, whereas Dante's love was not only a feeling, but was first of all a force that “moves the sun and the other stars" (Paradise XXXIII, 145). We believe that this force lies in feelings, while, instead, Dante's love is a force that coincides with the core of reality, and that is the main difference". On the occasion of the feast of love, IlSussidiario.net contacted the poet and writer Davide Rondoni, who in this interview, explains the transformation of the word "love" from Dante to the present day. “As one can see from the propaganda as well, Valentine's Day is an exaltation of feeling which inevitably leads to sentimentality, while, for Dante, the exaltation of the love that “moves the sun and the other stars” becomes the journey of a lifetime, the "fuel of life". The main difference is this: love on Valentine's Day is something that one feels, love for Dante is something that one has".

For most people, February 14 is a day dedicated solely to consumerism, which does not go beyond a few flowers and a box of chocolates. In your opinion does this festival preserve something that can overcome this blanket of superficiality?
Valentine's Day is a holiday invented by the Americans for commercial reasons, certainly, but not only. The Americans are not just merchants, but they realized that man needs to celebrate the fundamental things in life, and love is definitely one of them. So, before we get mad at the Americans for having invented this holiday, we must try to understand why we Italians did not think of it first.

Should we Italians have invented it?
I am speaking to you from Bologna, where Guinizzelli, the man who invented the Dolce Stil Novo, was born. We Italians were the ones to invent poetry and the literature of love, including even Dante, and so yes, I think that we should have been the ones to invent the holiday of love, not the Americans. The macroscopic error of this holiday is not its very existence, but its sentimental and commercial content. Perhaps it is up to us, given our cultural background, to give the day new meaning.

What does love mean for us today?