Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Journey Without End by Ian Thomson (Review)

“None of us today would have heard of Beatrice di Portinari had Dante, Italy’s greatest poet, not decided to retain the suggestive name (“Beatrice” signifies blessings) of a Florentine girl whom he conveniently first met at the age of nine – forms of three represent the Trinity in The Divine Comedy’s innovative terza rima – as his celestial Guide. Beatrice takes over from Virgil. No pagan, however distinguished, may enter Dante’s paradise. Beatrice is the initially reproachful (“What right had you to climb the mountain?”) but eventually redemptive spirit who draws the purified poet into the heart of the eternal rose within which, in the bliss-filled closing lines of The Divine Comedy, Dante himself becomes annihilated and immortalised.” […]    –Miranda Seymour, The Guardian, August 12, 2018

Illustrations of the Comedy by Matteo Berton (2015)

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“I had the great pleasure of working on the Divine Comedy for a children’s adaptation written by Paolo di Paolo and published by La Nuova Frontiera Junior in 2015.

“The project was selected by the Society of Illustrator of New York annual competition Illustrator 58 in 2016 and won a Silver Medal in the book and editorial category.” — Matteo Berton

Dante for fun, Illustrated Children’s Books

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“When we got to the gift-shop, we discovered an improbable set of children’s picture books that retell Dante for young people: it’s called Dante for fun and it comes in three volumes (naturally): Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.”    –Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, February 18, 2014

Contributed by Gabrielle E. Orsi, Ph.D.

Hunt Emerson, Dante’s Inferno (2012)

Emerson_Inferno_cover“HUNT EMERSON’S INFERNO delights on many levels: as an ingenious translation of classic verse into knockabout farce; as an effortlessly readable introduction to the poem for those too busy or too intimidated to tackle it without a guide; as a delicious crib for anxious Dante students with an essay crisis heaving into view; and as a warm tribute from the master of one art form to the grand master of another. Hunt’s cartoon is followed by Kevin Jack-son’s essay on Dante, which explains how the comic has been developed from the original, points out some of the more complicated jokes, and invites readers to go back to tackle Dante for them-selves.” [ . . . ] —Last Gasp Books, September 6, 2012

To see a live demo of Emerson drawing one of the sketches, click here.

Go Nagai, Mao Dante (1971)

mao-dante-go-nagai-divine-comedyConsidered one of the most important authors of Japanese manga, Go Nagai is creator of a Dante-inspired comic series called Mao Dante (also known as Demon Lord Dante in English). Nagai published the first series in 1971, and he has revisited these Dantesque themes, characters, and images in several series since (among them his 1972 anime series Devilman). Nagai’s illustrations were originally inspired by the dramatic 19th century lithographs Gustave Doré produced for the Divine Comedy. In 2017, it was announced that J-Pop would re-release Mao Dante (see here).

See also Dante Today‘s posts on Nagai’s Dante Shinkyoku and Devilman Lady.

Click here for a discussion of Go Nagai’s work in relation to three other Dante-inspired graphic novelists (article in Italian).

Contributed by Andrea Sartori

Illustrations by Mattotti, Glaser, and Moebius (1999)

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In 1999, Nuages Gallery in Milan published these three illustrated editions of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. See Nuages to learn more about the illustrators (Lorenzo Mattotti, Milton Glaser, and Moebius) and the project as a whole.

Roberta Delaney, “Translations and Transformations”

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“‘Translations and Transformations’ is a journey with two destinations: Dante’s and mine. Dante’s Divine Comedy was written at in the early 14th century, in Italian, and in verse. He is the narrator and main character. Since 1812 when it was first translated into English, this long poem of 100 Cantos has been translated continuously just in English. Dante’s journey takes us down into the many levels of the Inferno (the Pope is next to Satan); we leave the Inferno climb a mountain out of Purgatory leading to Paradise. Dante has completed his journey and returns to earth, content.
I have also completed my journey. The Divine Comedy is still being translated because within the poem’s tight geometric structure, Dante has exposed the flaws of human nature. He was a Catholic, but highly critical of the clergy. In the wider sense, pride is still with us as is greed. This is a universal work of art that resonates in today’s living language and, fortunately via translators, for future generations.
There are twenty-six etchings in ‘Translations and Transformations’, it is bound and all the text is letterpress printed. The Italian text is printed in light gray, the English translations in black. Open, the size is 13″high X 37”wide.”    —Roberta Delaney

Seymour Chwast’s Adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (2010)

seymour-chwast-adaptation-of-dantes-divine-comedy-2010“‘I, Dante, will tell you the story of my trip to the after world… but will I come back?’ So begins Seymour Chwast’s noirish graphic adaptation of what is perhaps the world’s most famous tale of spiritual tourism, the Divine Comedy. The list of artists who have tried their hand at visually interpreting Dante’s epic is both long and distinguished, but it would be safe to say that Chwast, a co-founder of Push Pin Studios and a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, may have had the most fun with the subject since Dante himself. . .
The book is more than an original take on Dante, though. It also represents Chwast’s fresh take on the graphic novel. Chwast eschews the expected rhythm of comic panels in favor of stunning drawings that leap and tumble all over the page. One of my favorite moments is a glorious two-page spread depicting the Emperor Justinian and a chorus line of flappers and vaudeville performers as they dance a welcome to Dante (and us) across a divine expanse. Justinian, of course, is dressed to the heavenly nines in a nineteen-thirties-style pinstripe suit, vest, and bow tie, and is sporting what one can only assume is his trademark pencil mustache.”    –Jordan Awan, The New Yorker, November 15, 2010

Dante’s Inferno – A Natural History

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Dante’s Inferno has been extensively illustrated, with accompanying notes, by Fabrica, a brand new book published by Mondadori, appearing in bookstores from May 25, 2010. More than 300 illustrations, all hand-made using different techniques and all accompanied by in-depth notation: a meticulous work, which gives the reader a fresh and original interpretation of one of the greatest masterpieces of everlasting literature. Fabrica assigned this project to two young English artists, Patrick Waterhouse and Walter Hutton.

Watch the making of the book on Vimeo.

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Remembering Michael Mazur’s Illustrations of the Inferno

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“Michael Mazur, a relentlessly inventive printmaker, painter and sculptor whose work encompassed social documentation, narrative and landscape while moving back and forth between figuration and abstraction, died on Aug. 18 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 73 and lived in Cambridge and Provincetown, Mass. . .
While attending Amherst College he studied with the printmaker and sculptor Leonard Baskin, who was teaching at Smith College. After taking a year off to study in Italy, where his lifelong fascination with Dante began, he received a bachelor’s degree in 1957 and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art from the Yale School of Art and Architecture. . .
After seeing an exhibition of Degas monotypes at the Fogg Museum in 1968, he began exploring that medium, most notably in the monumental Wakeby landscapes of 1983, depicting Wakeby Lake on Cape Cod, and in a series of illustrations for Robert Pinsky’s translation of Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ published in 1994.” [. . .]    –William Grimes, The New York Times, August 29, 2009

Contributed by Richard Lindemann (2006)