The Vision of HellDante Alighieri (tr. The Rev. Henry Francis Cary, M.A.)
Illustrated with the Designs of M. Gustave Doré, with Critical and Explanatory Notes, Life of Dante and Chronology
London: Cassell and Company, Limited.. 1903-1904.
Issued fortnightly in 36 parts between May 1903 and September 1904. Large 4to. (338x262mm). Inferno is in Parts 1-12, paginated continuously pp.1-183. Purgatory begins in Part 12 and with Paradise is paginated continuously 1-337 through to the end of Part 34. Part 35: pp. i-iv (Contents for Inferno), v-vi (List of Illustrations 1-75 for Inferno), vii-xvi (Life of Dante). Part. 36: pp. xvii-xxi (Life of Dante), xxii-xxiv (Chronological view of the Age of Dante); title page, contents and list of illustrations (1-60) for Purgatory and Paradise are pp. ii-xii in Part 36. Original brown card covers with all details printed in black. Overall this is a very good/ near fine set in excellent condition given the fragile nature of the magazine format. Part 1 has some tears to the cover at the spine and the lower cover and a two tears to the final page 16. There is also some cracking to the hinges. Part 2 has a tear (no loss) on the cover to the foot of the spine. The remaining parts are in near fine condition with no tears. There is some marking and browning in places to the covers. The contents are excellent throughout and the 136 full page plates made from Doré's celebrated illustrations are all intact and in fine condition. All 36 parts are contained within a light blue cloth clamshell case with gilt title on spine. Many of the volumes have original early 20th century advertisements tipped in or loosely inserted adding a further period flavour.
Gustave Doré began work on his illustrations for the Divine Comedy in 1855 at a time when there was a renewed interest in Dante in France. Doré himself financed the publication of the Inferno in 1861 and this was so successful that that the Purgatory and Paradise were published by Hachette in 1868 as a single volume. Subsequently, Doré's Dante illustrations appeared in roughly 200 editions in many languages.
“Characterized by an eclectic mix of Michelangelesque nudes, northern traditions of sublime landscape, and elements of popular culture, Doré's Dante illustrations were considered among his crowning achievements” (Aida Audeh). One critic wrote in 1861 about the Inferno: "we are inclined to believe that the conception and the interpretation come from the same source, that Dante and Gustave Doré are communicating by occult and solemn conversations the secret of this Hell plowed by their souls, traveled, explored by them in every sense."