The Dore Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy (136 Plates by Gustave Dore)

Gustave Doré (1832–83) was perhaps the most successful illustrator of the nineteenth century. His Doré Bible was a treasured possession in countless homes, and his best-received works continued to appear through the years in edition after edition. His illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy constitute one of his most highly regarded efforts and were Doré’s personal favorites.
The present volume reproduces with excellent clarity all 135 plates that Doré produced for The Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. From the depths of hell onto the mountain of purgatory and up to the empyrean realms of paradise, Doré’s illustrations depict the passion and grandeur of Dante’s masterpiece in such famous scenes as the embarkation of the souls for hell, Paolo and Francesca (four plates), the forest of suicides, Thaïs the harlot, Bertram de Born holding his severed head aloft, Ugolino (four plates), the emergence of Dante and Virgil from hell, the ascent up the mountain, the flight of the eagle, Arachne, the lustful sinners being purged in the seventh circle, the appearance of Beatrice, the planet Mercury, and the first splendors of paradise, Christ on the cross, the stairway of Saturn, the final vision of the Queen of Heaven, and many more.
Each plate is accompanied by appropriate lines from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translation of Dante’s work.

Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 1st edition (June 1, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048623231X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486232317
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
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6 thoughts on “The Dore Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy (136 Plates by Gustave Dore)”

  1. I have a horrible confession to make: I much prefer to look at Gustave Dore’s fantastic and grotesque scenes depicting Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with just appropriate lines from the Longfellow translation then have to deal with all those tercets. Even worse, I think these 135 illustrations from the 1861 edition comprise Dore’s best body of work, even better than his famous Bible illustrations completed five years later, mainly because I think Dore’s style is better suited to the depths of Hell and the realms of Purgatory, rather than the stories of the Bible. Clearly Dore found his kindred soul mate in Dante and even though he did classic engravings to illustrate everything from “Don Quixote” to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” this is his monumental achievement. Many admirers like the plates depicting the souls writhing in the fiery torments of Hell, but my favorite has to do with the lower level of hell where Dante and Virgil encounter the souls frozen in ice (Canto XXXII). This Dover edition is relatively inexpensive, which means the paper quality is geared towards economy rather than reproduction, but I think that it a satisfactory tradeoff, all things considered.

  2. You oughta be reading the Divine Comedy – I first viewed these prints in Lawrence Grant White’s blank verse translation. But if you’re into fantasy, goth art, book illustration or skin art, these plates by Gustave Dore will frighten, amaze & inspire you. It’s from Dover, so the price is right.

    Bob Rixon

  3. As I write this, I am a member of a book group that is working through the three parts of Dante’s COMEDY. I am also a fan of Gustave Dore’s illustrations, so it was a given that I would get a copy of this to accompany my trip through hell, purgatory, and the heavens with Dante. After having worked through these illustrations, looking at each one as I read the relevant passage in Dante, I simultaneously feel that any enthusiastic reader of Dante should own this book, while at the same time harboring some mild disappointment.

    Most of the illustrations are marvelously done. Dore magnificently captures the inner spaciousness and abandonedness of hell. The landscapes, the pits, the caverns, the abysses are all marvelously drawn and conceived. I’m not sure there has ever been a better illustrator than Dore, and in this volume we have Dore at his best. Or, rather, near his best. In fact, I found these illustrations disappointing in two regards. First, virtually all of his human figures look like parodies of classical nude studies. One of the joys of illustrations by Dore to accompany DON QUIXOTE is the wonderful naturalness of his characters. Quixote looks very much like we imagine Quixote, and so does Sancho Panza. But in the COMEDY, Dore’s figures look like slightly overweight body builders striking uncomfortable poses. There is an air of artificiality that I at times find somewhat overwhelming. The denizens of hell look spectacularly fit and well-fed. Where are the skinny sinners? The scrawny reprobates?

    The second way in which I found the illustrations disappointing is in the depiction of Dante, Virgil, and Beatrice. Dante is actually drawn to correspond as closely as possible with what we know about his appearance.Read more ›

  4. It is incumbent upon the reader of this book to have read Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY at least once. If there is no familiarity with that masterpiece before-hand, little will be gained by browsing thru these wonderful pages.
    For those who are intimate with Dante, this present book is a can’t miss. As an illustrated guide thru hell, purgatory and heaven, the plates will recall to the mind of the reader the sundry circles, punishments, torments and rewards depicted in the poem.
    For all who love the COMEDY, this is your chance to allow Dore to help you visualize your journey thru the cosmic afterlife with the likes of our friends, Dante the Pilgrim and Virgil the poet. As an added bonus, there are tercets depicting the scenes drawn by Dore on every page.
    After getting this edition, I’m now interested in getting his illustrations of Milton’s PARADISE LOST as well. For those who browse thru these pages, I would HIGHLY recommend listening to Loreena McKennitt’s song DANTE’s PRAYER while you do so. It is off of her album THE BOOK OF SECRETS (ASIN: B000002NHN), also available @ Amazon.com.

  5. Absolutely perfect! These pictures capture the essence and feel of the Divine Comedy perfectly. These are the kinds of scenes that went through my mind while I read. What captured my attention the most were the plates of Puragatory. Nobody else could have caught the mood more accurately. Dore and Dante are both gensises.

  6. I have always admired Gustave Dore’s work, both for its beauty and its emotion, but he (like Norman Rockwell) has always been a little ignored by the critics because he was a book illustrator(gasp!). Anyway, this Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, in my opinion, is his best work. Why? Because of the range – from hell to heaven and everywhere in between. His imagination perfectly captures Dante’s even greater imagination, and as the book progresses from Inferno to Purgaturio to Paradisio you get the impression of floating into the heavens. The translations, from Longfellow, are a little dated, but they work.

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