The "left-handed designer," Seymour Chwast has been putting his unparalleled take—and influence—on the world of illustration and design for the last half century. In his version of Dante's Divine Comedy
, Chwast's first graphic novel, Dante and his guide Virgil don fedoras and wander through noir-ish realms of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, finding both the wicked and the wondrous on their way.
Dante Alighieri wrote his epic poem The Divine Comedy from 1308 to 1321 while in exile from his native Florence. In the work's three parts (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise), Dante chronicles his travels through the afterlife, cataloging a multitude of sinners and saints—many of them real people to whom Dante tellingly assigned either horrible punishment or indescribable pleasure—and eventually meeting both God and Lucifer face-to-face.
In his adaptation of this skewering satire, Chwast creates a visual fantasia that fascinates on every page: From the multifarious torments of the Inferno to the host of delights in Paradise, his inventive illustrations capture the delirious complexity of this classic of the Western canon.
A Look Inside Dante's Divine Comedy: A Graphic Adaptation
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Famed artist and graphic designer Chwast has turned his talents to the graphic novel form for the first time, and we can all be happy about it. In a highly compressed version of Dante's Divine Comedy, Chwast takes us on a whirlwind tour of hell, purgatory, and heaven. With his signature mix of humor, artistry, and high-level design, he conveys a breathtaking amount of information in clear black and white line drawings. One graph illustrates "reasons for different levels of punishment," with sins ranging from "no self-control" (deemed "not so bad") to "insane brutality" (which is "terrible"). In another, the levels and regions of purgatory are laid out in an ascending birthday cake format. Much of the book is beautiful, with page design showing naked sinners tossed in a wind of words, a two-page spread of men and snakes wrapped in writhing battle, or a large flower made of angels as they fly from God. Dante himself is portrayed as a pipe-smoking detective type in sunglasses and a trench coat, while his guide, Virgil, wears a porkpie hat and wire-rimmed spectacles with his suit. It all works seamlessly as Chwast does a stunning job of telling Dante's story in his own brilliant style.
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