The Divina Commedia,

consisting of the Inferno-Purgatorio-and Paradiso. Translated into English verse, with preliminary essay, notes, and illustrations, by the Rev. Henry Boyd. In three volumes.

London: Printed by A. Strahan, for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1802 Stock Code: 138899
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First complete edition in English of the Divine Comedy, in handsome contemporary red morocco

First complete edition in English of the Divine Comedy, and the first publication in English of the Purgatorio and the Paradiso; the Inferno here marking its fourth publication in English, following the first edition of 1782, and Dublin and London editions by Boyd in 1785. This is a notably handsome copy in lavish contemporary red morocco.

This complete edition was greatly significant for the reception of Dante in the English speaking world, "assisting to re-establish an audience for Dante, whose reputation had suffered a decline in the previous century" (ODNB). The translator, the Church of Ireland clergyman Henry Boyd (1748/9-1832), stamped his own character on this text with a lengthy introductory preface (as well as a historical essay of his own to add to his translation of Leonardo Bruni's Life of Dante), in which he celebrates Dante as an original genius whose reputation had been unjustly diminished by unimaginative laws of criticism dominated by the French propensity to "cast a damp upon original invention". Interestingly, Boyd attempts to associate the resurgence of Dante with the contemporary rise of radical thought and politics "in this age of enlightened reason and adventurous discovery".

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3 volumes, octavo (234 x 143 mm). Contemporary red straight-grain morocco, spines lettered and tooled in gilt, covers with wide borders of gilt Greek-key bands within gilt fillets, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Housed in a custom red cloth solander box, black morocco label.


Vol. I with stipple-engraved frontispiece portrait, engraved by R.H. Cromek after T. Stothard.


Contemporary ownership signature "J. Smyth" to first title page. Colour expertly retouched in places with minimal repair at head of spines; contents with intermittent foxing, occasionally strong in vol I, otherwise generally clean. A very handsome, wide-margined copy.


Fiske Catalogue of the Dante Collection vol. I, p. 43; Lowndes, 1872, vol. I., p. 589.


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