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Review: Dante’s Divine Comedy

March 24, 2011

I’ve never read Dante’s Divine Comedy, but know some of the basic story, so I was rather excited to see that it was adapted into a graphic novel by Seymour Chwast.  I thought reading the graphic version would give me a greater appreciation of Dante’s work and might even inspire me to pick up the original.

Chwast includes all three sections of Divine Comedy – Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise – and basically summarizes each one.  I have to admit that Chwast’s version didn’t really reveal anything new to me, so I think it’s intended for those with almost no knowledge of the original.  The illustrations are black and white and are adequate for the book.  This graphic novel would be a great way to introduce young readers to Divine Comedy but it left me wanting more. That may be a reflection of my expectations and not of the book, though.

Review copy provided by Bloomsbury.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
34 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 6:58 am

    I have a hard time with graphic novels for some reason. probably the same reason, I never enjoyed comic books as a child….LOL

  2. March 24, 2011 7:05 am

    I have read part of Dante’s book, not the whole thing, but I think I need something a bit more comprehensive than this.

  3. March 24, 2011 7:16 am

    I’ve read Dante ( but don’t ask me discuss it intelligently!). I’m disappointed that this GN didn’t do a better job. I like the idea of it, but would be looking for more than a summary.

  4. March 24, 2011 7:21 am

    You know I love graphic novels, but this doesn’t seem like one that would inspire. I’m sad actually because I’ve never read the Divine Comedy (intimidated maybe?) and this could have been the answer. Graphic novels need to blow your mind, not underwhelm.

  5. March 24, 2011 7:28 am

    I’ve always been too scared to read Dante’s Divine Comedy. So this graphic novel would be perfect for me!

  6. March 24, 2011 7:54 am

    Sounds perfect for me as I’m not familiar with Dane’s Divine Comedy.

  7. March 24, 2011 8:40 am

    I would luv to read the graphic novel. I am afraid this is the only way I might understand the big novel. Didn’t know about the graphic novel.

  8. March 24, 2011 8:43 am

    I loved Dante’s Inferno! I’d be curious to check this out just to see what it’s like.

  9. March 24, 2011 9:01 am

    I think it would be really hard for this book to really be successful, because The Divine Comedy, as I have heard, is really filled with a lot rich and detailed imagery and I can’t imagine a graphic novel that would capture that. If it had been successful, I would have rushed right out and bought this one though!

  10. March 24, 2011 9:31 am

    It seems an unusual choice for a graphic novel!

  11. March 24, 2011 9:53 am

    My first exposure to The Divine Comedy was a book with illustrations by William Blake. I don’t think I actually read the text, but the illustrations were so amazing, I never forgot them. I think a graphic version would have a hard time competing with William Blake!

  12. March 24, 2011 10:01 am

    I’ve read parts of The Divine Comedy and I know most the parts I didn’t read, I like the idea of a GN for those unfamiliar with the story. I’m not a big Graphic Novel fan but I think this would be perfect for my son, a reluctant reader who loves a good story.

  13. March 24, 2011 10:59 am

    Too bad the book left you wanting more. I read Dante’s Inferno and really enjoyed it. I hope your next read is better.

  14. March 24, 2011 12:23 pm

    Kathy, I am surprised that the illustrations are B & W (line drawings?). It sounds as if this version was okay but not terrific.

  15. March 24, 2011 12:24 pm

    P.S. I noticed you changed your header print–it looks good. 🙂

  16. March 24, 2011 1:05 pm

    Sorry to hear this one fell a little flat for you. At first I was tempted when I saw it was a graphic novel since I had tried to tread the book a lot time ago, but after your review I think I would end up being disappointed too.

  17. March 24, 2011 2:40 pm

    As you point out, it sounds like it is probably well suited for the reader who is not familiar with the original.

  18. March 24, 2011 4:50 pm

    I’d read it, lol

  19. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 24, 2011 5:12 pm

    I probably know more than I think, but I think I could really benefit from this!

  20. March 24, 2011 5:23 pm

    Wow…I can’t even imagine this…I am afraid to read the original, too. But in this format? Hmm…not a bad way to get into it…

  21. March 24, 2011 7:07 pm

    I think I’ll wait for a more extensive but not too theoretic graphic version of this book. I really want to know more about it, but I don’t yet have the motivation to pick the original book.

  22. March 24, 2011 7:11 pm

    I’m sure I would have loved it when I was younger, as an intro to Dante. I did read the Inferno in college though, and I really don’t feel a need to read any more of it.

  23. March 24, 2011 8:09 pm

    I’ve not read this either but I think I would need more than this book gives you…just like you. This seems like a perfect story to adapt as a graphic novel. I can just imagine the illustrations of Hell.

  24. March 24, 2011 11:05 pm

    It’s an intriguing idea, to put Dante’s Divine Comedy in graphic novel form!

  25. March 25, 2011 1:08 am

    I hope this is just the beginning of seeing classics in graphic novel form. I love well done graphic books.

  26. March 25, 2011 1:50 am

    I read the entire book in High School. I wasn’t all that thrilled with it then. Perhaps an introduction (like a graphic novel) to it at an earlier age could make older kids or college students more excited about it.

  27. March 25, 2011 7:59 am

    I hope to read The Divine Comedy some day. I think we read either part or all of Purgatorio in high school, accompanied by illustrations, and I thought it was pretty amazing.

  28. March 25, 2011 8:56 am

    I have never been able to read a graphic novel. It just confuses me. My daughter reads them all the time. I think the graphic novels do get people reading books that might not otherwise read.

  29. March 25, 2011 9:04 am

    i remember reading dante’s inferno in college and found it really interesting. i love reading graphic novels so i’ll definitely have to check this one out.

  30. March 25, 2011 5:38 pm

    I am thinking I should get this for some of my cousins who are in school now because wow, this would be such the easier format for them!

  31. March 25, 2011 9:08 pm

    I still really want this book; I’ve looked at it in the stores many times and it just really appeals to me. I took a course on the Commedia in college and just love it.

  32. March 26, 2011 7:31 pm

    I’ve just gotten into graphic novels so I’ll add this one to my reading list. I’ll mention it to my son since he’s been reading along with me.

    Dante’s take in a graphic novel should be interesting.

  33. March 30, 2011 12:55 pm

    I haven’t read the original and I don’t know much about it, so this might be a good start for me.

  34. April 2, 2011 5:58 am

    I was really hoping someone would review Dante’s Divine Comedy and I’m glad you did even though it’s for the graphic novel edition. I hope to read the original translated version one day.

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