No autograph document of Dante’s has survived. Not only is there no original manuscript of the Divine Comedy, but nothing remains of his works in Latin or the vulgate, no letters, not even a signature by which he can be identified. But making up for his lack is the fact that his masterwork was very widely distributed; just a few years after his death, copies multiplied all over Italy. The almost 800 manuscripts of the Comedy that have survived to our day make it second only to the Bible. A distribution of this sort was made possible by a copious production of manuscripts made by numerous copyists, some famous, for example Giovanni Boccaccio, and others simple laborers in the manuscript workshops of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. While on the one hand this facilitated knowledge of the work throughout the Italian peninsula, on the other it inevitably led to the rapid corruption of the text, making it almost impossible to be certain of the definitive original.
The rise of information technology has now opened new horizons, promptly adopted by the Società Dantesca Italiana. The purpose of this section of our web site is the integral reproduction of the manuscripts of Dante’s works in digital form, uniting all the various versions of Dante’s works scattered among the libraries of the whole world into one virtual library, freely available to the public.
[All manuscripts list]
[Available manuscripts only]