A fascinating history of the creatures that populate myths and folklore, John Cherry’s Mythical Beasts is beautifully reimagined as a Folio edition illustrated with archive images and Neil Packer’s striking new motifs and binding design.
The Divine Comedy
Illustrated by Neil Packer
Translated by Robin Kirkpatrick
Limited to 700 hand-numbered copies
Essay by Jhumpa Lahiri Editorial material by George Holmes
Essay by Jhumpa Lahiri
Editorial material by George Holmes
An exceptional leather-bound limited edition celebrating 700 years of Dante’s monumental work. Each set is numbered by hand and signed by the artist.
‘Dante is the first author to prove, literally, that dead authors not only speak to us but continue living, changing and growing in significance.
- Jhumpa Lahiri from her introductory essay.
Published to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante's death, this fabulous leather-bound limited edition in three volumes combines 100 illustrations by Neil Packer, an exclusive introductory essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri and introductions by George Holmes with Robin Kirkpatrick’s acclaimed translation. Limited to just 700 hand-numbered sets, each signed by the artist, this is Folio’s splendid commemorative edition of one of the greatest classics of world literature.
Limited to 700 hand-numbered sets signed by Neil Packer
Bound in goatskin leather blocked in metallic foils with raised bands
Limitation tip printed letterpress on Woodstock Betulla paper
100 illustrations in total
808 pages in total set in Dante and printed on Corolla Book Laid paper
Books printed in two colours throughout
Page edges printed with hand-drawn lettering
Black grosgrain ribbon markers
Three volumes each 8¾" x 5½"
Presented in a hand-made cloth-covered case
Presentation case 5" x 12⅔" x 8"
Three separate prints for framing presented in a folder
Printed and bound by L.E.G.O., Vicenza, Italy
‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.’
- T. S. Eliot
Notably written in Italian rather than Latin, Dante’s poem is an extraordinary feat of literature exploring love, death and belief and has been hugely influential for centuries. Beatrice, symbol of divine grace, sends Virgil to guide Dante through Hell and up the slopes of Purgatory before she, a woman who in life the poet idolised, leads him into Heaven. His journey towards spiritual enlightenment is peopled with legendary and historical figures, but also with his contemporaries. Packed with symbolism, metaphor and allusion, in cantos written with unmatched poetic elegance, the influence of The Divine Comedy is ever-present, from music to art to literature and still resonates with readers after 700 years.
‘I knew that this was going to be a challenging and profound process, but one of the great joys of illustrating any book is that you have the luxury of getting to know it and understand it.’
- Neil Packer
A tradition of illustration has surrounded The Divine Comedy from the earliest manuscripts, and Neil Packer was the perfect choice to carry this tradition. He has created illustrations for all 100 cantos, drawing out details from the text, along with frontispiece schemes of the three regions – Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Each volume also has an original and exclusive print for framing. Packer’s work, which draws on diverse influences including English woodblock prints from the 1930s, North African designs, 18th–19th century steelpoint engravings, Dürer and Art Deco, extends to exquisite hand-drawn lettering, striking binding designs and the decorative papers lining the elaborate presentation box.
‘The most obvious merit of the Comedy is that it contains more sustained poetic beauty than any poem written since; but it also contained a new way of looking at the world.’
- George Holmes from his introduction to Paradiso
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who has a doctorate in Renaissance Studies and now writes her novels in Italian, has contributed a specially commissioned introductory essay ‘Thirty-three thoughts on Dante’. Exquisitely written in 33 passages, mirroring the cantos, her thoughts range from film to numerology in an entertaining and absorbing piece. George Holmes’s superb essays and introductions for each book offer insights and explanations apt for both scholars and the general reader. And for the text itself, Robin Kirkpatrick’s acclaimed translation was chosen, written in three-line rhyming stanzas to follow Dante’s terza rima scheme.
June 1265–September 1321
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence around 1265, into a family which he claimed descended from the ancient Romans. Little is known of his education, but in his youth he associated with many of the best-known poets, musicians and artists of the day. He entered politics in 1295 and became one of the six governing Priors of Florence in 1300, but was forced into exile with his party in 1301. He wrote, taught and lectured, producing the Vita Nuova, Convivio, De Monarchia and the Divina Commedia, which is widely considered the greatest work of Italian literature. He died in Ravenna in 1321.
Neil Packer was born in Birmingham in 1961. He trained at the Colchester School of Art before becoming a full-time illustrator in 1984 with the publication of his first children’s book. He has had a long career working in design, publishing and advertising, mostly in the United States. He has illustrated a number of titles for The Folio Society, including I, Claudius (1994), The Name of the Rose (2001), Catch-22 (2004), One Hundred Years of Solitude (2006), Foucault’s Pendulum (2016) and most recently Mythical Beasts (2021). Packer’s work has been exhibited in London, Singapore and the United States.
Born in London to Indian parents in 1967, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to America as a child. In 2000 she became the youngest winner of a Pulitzer Prize for her first short story collection Interpreter of Maladies. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, her novels include The Namesake and The Lowland. Having lived in Rome for some years, Lahiri has returned to America to teach creative writing at Princeton University. She writes in Italian and has recently published a translation of her first Italian novel, Dove mi trovo, as Whereabouts.
Robin Kirkpatrick is Emeritus Professor of Italian and English Literature at the University of Cambridge. He has written numerous books on Dante and on the Renaissance including The European Renaissance 1400–1600 and English and Italian Literature from Dante to Shakespeare. His translation of The Divine Comedy, written in three-line rhyming stanzas to follow Dante’s verse, was first published in 2006–7.
Academic and author George Holmes wrote extensively on the Italian Renaissance; his introductory essays for The Divine Comedy were first published in 1980. Holmes was Chichele Professor of Medieval History and fellow of All Souls College at the University of Oxford and in 1993 was awarded the Serena Medal for Italian Studies by the British Academy. He died in 2009.
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