The Vita Nuova is an anthology of Dante’s early poems collected together and linked with a frame in prose, which is also a comment on the poems. It’s divided into 42 chapters and is written in Italian language.
The title means "new life" or better "life renewed by love". In fact this work is about Dante’s love for Beatrice (Bice di Folco Portinari); this love is described with the Stilnovo criterion and produces a spiritual renew in Dante. It is also a sort of poetical autobiography, which documents young Dante’s adhesion to Stilnovo ideals.
The work begins with Dante’s first encounter with Beatrice, when she’s nine years old. Nine years later she will first greet him. From that moment on, Dante decides to begin praising her with his poems. He has many visions of her, which reveals him that she will prematurely die and she will ascend to Heaven. When it happens, Dante decides to stop writing poems about her until he will be able to write higher poetry.
With this work, finished just after Beatrice’s death, Dante exceeds Stilnovo ideals: at the end of his experience, Beatrice is no more the incarnation of a generic love-god, but is a tool of God’s will (the Christian God). This will be the Beatrice of the Divina Commedia, who guides Dante towards God through Heaven.