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The Divina Commedia,
London: Printed by A. Strahan for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies,, 1802. consisting of the Inferno–Purgatorio–and Paradiso. Translated into English verse, with preliminary essay, notes, and illustrations, By the Rev. Henry Boyd. 3 volumes, octavo (230 x 141 mm). Near-contemporary red half calf, spines gilt-tooled in compartments, two coloured morocco title labels to each, purple cloth sides with triple gilt rule, marbled endpapers and edges. Engraved frontispiece. Spines a trifle sunned, covers somewhat scuffed and marked, glue residue to tails of spines from removed labels, some very light spotting to early and late leaves only and a little more to frontispiece as expected, but a sound and attractive set in very good condition. Contemporary bookseller's ticket of John Stacy, Bookseller, of Norwich, to front free endpaper of first volume; near contemporary Norfolk ink ownership inscription to each volume; loose bookplate of Francis Augustus Brooks, M.D. laid into the first volume; illustrated bookplates of Howard Murray, O.B.E., to front pastedowns in each volume; loose library plates designating the presentation from Murray to the Fraser Institute Free Public Library of Montreal. There are no library markings to the text. First edition of the first English version of the complete Divine Comedy to be published, which is greatly significant for "assisting to re-establish an audience for Dante, whose reputation had suffered a decline in the previous century" (ODNB). The translator Henry Boyd (1748/9–1832) was a Church of Ireland clergyman. He has stamped his own character on this text with a lengthy introductory preface (as well as a historical essay of his own to add to his translation of Leonardo Bruni's Life of Dante), in which he celebrates Dante as an original genius whose reputation had been unjustly diminished by unimaginative laws of criticism dominated by the French propensity to "cast a damp upon original invention". Interestingly, Boyd attempts to associate the resurgence of Dante with the contemporary rise of radical thought and politics "in this age of enlightened reason and adventurous discovery". Boyd had previously in 1785 published by subscription a two-volume translation of the Inferno only, alongside a specimen of the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto, and this in itself was only the second English translation of the Inferno. This first complete English Dante is scarce in commerce, with nine copies traced at auction.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-12-12           Check availability:      Biblio    

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