74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
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.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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. We have a host of drawings of him from the century after his death, though it is not clear whether we have any contemporary drawings. Dante was described as being somewhat lean with a pronounced stoop. The stoop is in full evidence in all of Dore's representations of him. Unfortunately, there is no comparable evidence of his being a human being. He looks more like a chess piece, with little or no movement throughout the entire poem. No matter what he is gazing upon, there is very little difference in any of his poses. While Dante in the poem is vibrantly alive, in the illustrations here he seems stiff and inhuman. Virgil is equally stiff, but he is also astonishingly feminine looking. In fact, I frequently wondered, before I grew accustomed to Dore's manner of drawing Virgil, who the tall woman beside Dante was. Beatrice is clearly a woman, but she is drawn from scene to scene as stiffly as the other two principal characters, and seems as a result an unappealing figure.
Although Dore produced more impressive work (see either his extraordinary illustrations for DON QUIXOTE or THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER), this nevertheless remains remarkable stuff. And while I am not entirely happy with the artificiality of many of the tableaux, they have exerted considerable influence. Indeed, anyone who has seen Fritz Lang's NIEBELUNGENLIED will see the influence of Dore. In the end, Dore at less than his best surpasses most illustrators working beyond their abilities.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 1999
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.
43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2004
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.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 1998
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 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2006
I have looked at a variety of Dante artists. Some well known and some are not. Suloni Robertson, John Flaxman, Willam Blake, Sandro Botticelli, Sandow Birk, Herb Roe. Do a google search to look at the works of some of these like Sandow Birk. There are some that are more obscure which in a way documents the Comedy, more specifically the Inferno. I'm not going to say who I don't like but Dore is the best. I am rather specific about artists. Dore makes the grade. He is good, really good and when you look at this book, you feel like you are in the terrible depths of hell. I like purgatorio too. I feel the religious prayer songs in my head as I see Beatrice's entrance. There is so much symbolism in these pictures, especially in Paradiso. Though I do disagree with the depiction of Muhammad in hell, the rest is fantastic. I mean that he looks more like he's British then Middle Eastern. I imagine him with blonde hair in the plate. The tortured look on Dante's face in the plate with Betrand de Born, (The cover pic) is extraordinary. I felt how he felt. That is why Dore is so good. I had also hoped for more detail with Ugolino because his story is fantastically horrifying.
The book is a must for any Dante fan. I look at it a lot, even if I have seen the pictures hundreds of times. I really don't think that you can get bored with this. There is always something new to look at. Some detail you looked over. Buy this book because the scans online don't give the justice that this book has. Buy it, look it over, get inspired by it. Maybe we will see your work on Amazon in the near future.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2006
The quality of this book - along with an amazingly affordable price tag - quickly persuaded me to pick up a copy. Its really everything you could ask for in an art book;
The pictures are all very big, but not overwhelming; Its easy to see minute detail, and the overall scope of the image. I actually blew up some of the prints in photoshop and printed them on huge poster paper for my room, while not sacrificing a drop of detail.
Also, I had to put quite a good deal of pressure onto the spine of the book in order to get a good scan from them, and im happy to say that doing so didn't even leave an annoying "bookmark" crease in the book, and the spine didn't even crease. Dover books really did produce a fine quality book, and the note on the back really is true: This book IS permanent.
If you have read or are reading the divine comedy this book is a great reference to glance at every now and again to truly suck you into Dante's epic poem, and bring you to the Heights of Heaven, The Depths of Hell, or the pain of purgatory in a way you could never have imagened.
The woodcuts done here by dore are so elaborate and vivid you could spend a good portion of a day just gazing into the faces of cursed souls writhing in hell, or the beauty of millions of angels soaring in the highest heaven. Dore illustrates every picture so full of movement and depth its the next best thing to a movie.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Excellent printout and price. Just get it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Although just a man, the prolific career of Gustove Dore really has some divine inspiration. Perhaps that's one reason the church needed him so much - perhaps something really did reach out and whisper his name and someone listened. (Personally I hope that thing was Cthulhu and the dreams were bad, but that's just me)
As far as this book goes, it is one of the easiest to gain entry into a very exciting world. I like the way the rendering are set to tell the story, too, allowing the reader to walk through some frightening gates and look into some of the terrible things that are described in a language that sometimes does seem heavy (Personal opinion and I don't mean offense by it).
When I look at this, it reminds me of the journey that I took as a young adult while learning about all those names and faces that I didn't know. It also reminds me of everything from people with their bodies buried in the ground to one poor soul writhing as a half spider/half woman appeared on the ground. Dore is that kind of influence and I'm glad that someone granted me entry into this world because, if they hadn't, I would have missed out on so much. So, brielf, I have to say that this is well worth the price of admission and it is well worth obtaining so you can look at the detail and marvel at the tools being utilized.
also, look into the other books. The bible, the mad; Dore was inspired by everything. And that is inspiring, to say the least.