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Beautiful binding and packaging, but the pictures leave much to be desired
on August 31, 2017
There seem to be many jumbled reviews of many different editions and translations of the Divine Comedy. This is in reference to the Knickerbocker cloth bound edition — the Longfellow translation with Doré's illustrations included.
I've been looking for a high quality edition of the Divine Comedy for a number of months now. This is the second one I've found not entirely satisfactory (I first picked up a leather-bound edition at a brick & mortar bookstore, and very soon after returned it, for the same reason I am about to describe here). The book's construction is indeed beautiful, but the major shortcoming is with respect to the printing of Gustave Doré's engravings, which happen to be a large part of why I was interested in this volume. The reproduction of the engravings is of low quality, and in many of them the exquisite detail is not even clearly visible. My guess is the pictures were printed from computer-prepared facsimiles, and as such they exhibit the jaggy "copy-of-a-copy" artifacting, along with an unsightly moiré effect in many of the backgrounds.
Again, the exterior of the book is truly gorgeous, but it's what's inside that counts. The poor quality of these illustrations cost this overall rating of mine two stars. I would prefer a paperback edition with top quality illustrations. I would even resort to two volumes, the text in one and the engravings in another, if that was the way to ensure I could have Doré's artwork in the vivid, glorious detail it really deserves.