University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Italian Literature

Rare Books and Special Collections holds one of the premier collections of Italian literature in the United States. Principal among our materials is the Zahm Dante Collection, which totals over 3,500 volumes and ranks among the top collections of materials relating to Dante Alighieri in North America. To support research on topics related to the development of the Italian language in literary contexts, Special Collections also possesses an expansive collection of early Italian printed books including incunabula. Additional notable concentrations include growing collections of modern literature as well as historical guidebooks and tourist literature about Italy.

The Zahm Dante Collection is one of the foremost resources for the study of Dante Alighieri within North America. Grounded in incunable and cinquecentine editions of Dante, the Zahm Dante Collection also boasts a rich collection of 19th and 20th century editions of the poet's works, criticism and commentaries, and ephemeral materials that document Dante's popularity in literary and popular culture over time.

Our collection holdings are rich in the works of major medieval and Renaissance Italian authors including Petrarch, Boccaccio, Baldassare Castiglione, Ludovico Ariosto, Pietro Bembo, and Torquato Tasso. These authors' works are represented in the collection through early imprints and translations, historical publications of textual criticism, and significant illustrated editions.

The early Italian collections boast further strengths, including vernacular poetry and prose, the history of the Italian language, the "questione della lingua" and debates surrounding the establishment of linguistic standards, and early Italian language dictionaries.

Special Collections also hosts growing collections of modern literature. In particular, the writings of Primo Levi are actively collected, particularly first editions of works and translations published during the author's lifetime. Special Collections additionally houses a developing collection of small press publications that record vernacular dialect poetry of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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