DORÉ’S MAGNIFICENT DANTE
(DORÉ, Gustave) DANTE. The Vision of Hell; The Vision of Purgatory and Paradise. London, Paris, New York & Melbourne: Cassell and Company, 1904. Two volumes. Large folio (11 by 13 inches), original red cloth gilt, large gilt medallion portraits of Dante on front covers, all edges gilt. $1800.
Splendid later edition of one of Doré’s most famous illustrated works, the celebrated English translation of Dante by Henry Francis Cary, with frontispiece portrait of Dante and 135 full-page wood-engravings, showing the torments of Hell "with minute and sometimes shocking fidelity."
"One can hardly deny that Doré is not merely one of the most popular but also one of the greatest of all illustrators… In the case of Dante, he gladly subjugated his imagination, aiming at literal renderings of the precise descriptions of the Inferno. Thus the varied torments of the dwellers in Hell are shown with minute and sometimes shocking fidelity" (Ray, 327-28). "The Divine Comedy of Dante could have been written at no other time than at the beginning of the 14th century. It was essentially an age of freedom and daring in thought and speech, which it was natural to express in verse. To this Dante added a deep knowledge of the learning of his time… The audacity of his theme, the success of its treatment, the beauty and majesty of his verse, have ensured that his poem never lost its reputation" (PMM 8). Henry Francis Cary's 1814 English translation "has remained the translation which, on Dante's name being mentioned, occurs first to the mind," as Cary has "in great measure preserved [Dante's] transparent simplicity and intense vividness" (DNB). In illustrating Dante, Doré "was adrift on dreams of splendor, with flights of fancy that are still inspirational to the religious and the non-religious" (Malan, 95). His wood-engravings have taken beautiful impressions on the coated stock of this edition (not used in most of the nearly 200 other editions). First published with Doré's illustrations by Hachette in 1861. See Malan, 263-65.
Plates and text fine, text block and inner hingesexpertly repaired, modest wear to original cloth.