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The Divine Comedy by Dante, Penguin Classics

Contributed by Blythwood on Jul 4th, 2016. Artwork published in .
    Dante the Divine Comedy front.jpg
    Photo: Blythwood. Penguin Books. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Penguin Books’ more prestigious “classical” publications tended to use Perpetua for the covers. This is the Penguin Classics release of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, from 1959 (reprint of a 1955 original): all very classical with a nice geometric border and everything centred. These editions are still very easy to get hold of cheaply if you like them, although they’d be too fragile now to handle often. (Sayers sadly died in 1957 with her translation incomplete; the third part, Paradise, was completed by her friend and god-daughter Barbara Reynolds, and published after considerable delay in 1962 – this copy is clearly a straight reprint of the 1955 edition, since it doesn’t mention this.)

    Everything inside is Bembo, apart from a colophon in some kind of Caslon. Printed by R. & R. Clark of Edinburgh. The price looks like Times New Roman.

    As you might expect from the period, the quality of printing is good but not perfect: the colour border is a bit wavy and the back cover especially is not perfectly vertical (it’s not a distortion of the scan and the crop). A few serifs seem to have got lost on the front cover too. The back cover’s Perpetua italic, though, is wonderfully crisp. Will there ever be a really good Perpetua digitisation with optical sizes so it’s possible to recreate this digitally?

    Dante the Divine Comedy back cover.jpeg
    Photo: Blythwood. Penguin Books. License: All Rights Reserved.


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    1 Comment on “The Divine Comedy by Dante, Penguin Classics”

    1. Blythwood says:
      Sep 9th, 2016  9:01 pm

      Some good news on that last point.

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