"I say, continuing, that long before"

(Canto 8, line 1)

A theory about the compositional history of the "Comedy" hinges on the word "continuing" here. A tradition of commentators beginning with Boccaccio believe that Dante stopped writing his poem for a certain period of time, to resume it at a later stage. According to this theory, the previous seven Cantos were written before the time of Dante's banishment, and were then lost together with other writings. Several years later, the manuscript would have found its way back to Dante, when he stayed with the Malaspinas in Lunigiana (around 1306). Consequently, certain commentators believe a marked shift in aesthetic quality occurs starting with the eighth Canto, while other reject the whole theory altogether as an unlikely construction.