“‘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
“‘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 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
This slideshow by Kelly Scott for Richmond High School’s Honors English class breaks Disney characters down into different levels of hell. See the full slideshow here.
Spirit of the Ages’ Greeting Card Illustrations by Evelyn Paul for “Stories from Dante” (1911).
Contributed by Virginia Jewiss (Yale Humanities Program)