The first English edition of Dante's pinnacle work.
DANTE ALIGHIERI. The Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri: consisting of the Inferno - Purgatorio - and Paradiso. London: A. Strahan for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1802.
8vo., full contemporary polished calf, boards ruled in gilt with gilt in compartments and lettering in gilt to spine. With decorative marbelled end papers and book plate of The Rev'd Thomas Troughton to front paste down. 3vols: vol i pp. viii, 408; vol ii pp. [iv], 384; vol iii [iv], 420. Hinges cracked on all three volumes, with skillful repair. Edges a little bumped and a scratch approximately 10cm long to the upper board of vol. II. Spines rubbed and pages very lightly foxed in accordance with age, otherwise text clean.
First translation of Dante's Divine Comedy into English by the Reverend Henry Boyd. Dante's pivotal work took over a decade to write, and much of it was written in exile, after he fled from Florence in 1302. The text quickly gained popularity, particularly from fellow poets such as Boccaccio, who is credited with adding the prefix 'divine' to the title. Considered by many to be the greatest poem of the middle ages, it was translated into many European languages before English, partly because Dante's Catholic views were considered old fashioned in comparison to England's predominently Protestant audiences.
Boyd was a member of the Irish clergy, and this, his second translation, was to become his most important work. Dedicated to the Viscount Charleville, to whom he was a chaplain, he writes that the terrors of the Irish rebellion had driven him from the post of danger at Lord Charleville's side to seek a safe asylum in a 'remote angle of the province'(Bruni). He went on to translate Petrarch and notes on the fallen angels in Paradise Lost. Boyd's translation contributed to Dante's revival in popularity after he had fallen by the critical wayside in the aftermath of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. By the end of the 19th century Longfellow also published a translation, and William Blake also went on to illustrate some of the more famous passages.
A very handsome copy of a foundational text in European Literature.