Dante Alighieri’s “Divina Commedia” is one of the (if not simply “the”) most famous piece of italian literature. According to wikipedia:
The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman epic poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and another of his works, La Vita Nuova. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: “all’alta fantasia qui mancò possa” – “at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe,” Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).
Dante wrote the Comedy in a new language he called “Italian”, based on the regional dialects of Tuscany, Sicilian and some elements of Latin and other regional dialects. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is nicknamed la langue de Dante.
In this article I describe my own copy of a very special hungarian translation performed by the famous poet Mihaly Babits (author of works such as Leaves from the Garland of Iris [Levelek Irisz koszorújából], 1908; But Prince, if Winter Should Come [Herceg, hátha megjön a tél is], 1911; Recitativ,[Recitative] 1916; Island and Sea [Sziget és tenger], 1925; and In Race With the Years [Versenyt az esztendôkkel], 1928; The Book of Jonah [Jónás könyve] 1941) and illustrated by the hungarian secession artist Zádor István.
Zádor was a painter and illustrator, even if he started his career by working in a bank. Meanwhile his boring occupation he attended painting and design courses at School of Decorative Art in 1901. As many of his contemporary, he leaved Hungary for certain of time in order to live and study in Paris (1906-09). In the case of Zádor, he entered the École des Beaux-Artsunder the directions of T.A. Steinlein. Finally, he studied, between 1909-10, to the Academy in Florence, where he kept in touch with the huge tradition of italian kodex book illustration. Particularly in Florence, during the Middle Age, developed a very strong tradition in the art of book binding and illustration, and even King Matthias Corvinus, the legendary founder of one of the most important library of all ages and king of Hungary between 1458 until his death in 1490, had his own shop in Florence in which several copyists copied and illustrated a conspicuous number of Corvina manuscripts.
The style of this edition of Dante’s Inferno was heavily influenced by the codex illuminated by italians artists , during the Middle Age, in the city of Florence, as you can notice by regarding at the following gallery: