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Valentine Giamatti’s Collection at Mount Holyoke College

  • Ombretta Frau Mount Holyoke College
Parole chiave: Dante Collections, Divine Comedy, Giamatti, Toynbee, Fiske, Zahm, Mount Holyoke College, Italian-American Relations


My paper focuses on Valentine Giamatti’s collection of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy editions at Mount Holyoke College. The son of Italian immigrants, Giamatti (1911-1982) followed a path that was unusual in the Italian-American community at that time, graduating both from Yale (B.A.) and Harvard (Ph.D.). He joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke in 1940, at a very delicate moment in the USA-Italian political relations. Giamatti’s collection of Dante editions originated from a wedding gift. Over the years it grew to include over two hundred volumes in many languages. It contains rare editions (including the first Florentine edition of the Commedia with drawings after Botticelli, and the first edition with the adjective ‘Divina’ in print) and curious ones (such as L’Inferno di Topolino). Seven centuries after Dante’s death, the Giamatti collection is the perfect gateway for a reflection on his collecting style and on the immense relevance of Dante’s poem in American culture.


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