Dublin: P. Byrne, 1785. First Thus. Contemporary speckled calf with morocco spine labels and gilt to spines and boards. Bindings in beautiful, unsophisticated condition, with just a bit of rubbing to the corners and tops of spines. Marbled endpapers. Measuring 108 x 178mm (pages) and collating viii, 1-349, , 351-367, [1, blank] (page 351 misnumbered but pagination continuous); , 5-454: complete. Volume I with some light pencil annotations to pages 56-57, 65, and 68; small loss to corner of 147-148 not affecting text; staining to margins of 206-207 not affecting text. Volume II with loss to margin of pages 363-364 not affecting text. In all, an exceptional, clean, and bright copy. The first appearance of the Boyd translation of Dante, considered superior to the first English translation of 1782 by Charles Rogers. Scarce institutionally and in trade, ESTC reports 10 copies in the U.S. and the modern auction record documents only one appearance.
One of the world’s great masterpieces and a foundational text of Italian literature, The Inferno constitutes the first part of Dante's Divine Comedy, tracing his narrator's epic journey through the bowels of Hell, into Purgatory, and finally to the embrace of Paradise. The entire Comedy would not be fully translated into English until 1802, by the present translator Henry Boyd. Boyd (1749 - 1832), a member of the Irish clergy. His translation would help bring Dante back into literary circles after he had fallen by the critical wayside in the aftermath of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Thanks to Boyd's reintroduction of Dante's poetic vision here and then in The Divine Comedy, Dante soon regained his popularity; before the 19th century was up Longfellow would also try his hand at a translation and William Blake would make drawings of some of its more famous passages.
ESTC T129133. (Item #3201)