"THE FIRST OF ITS KIND": RARE FIRST COMPLETE DIVINE COMEDY IN ENGLISH, 1802
DANTE. (BOYD, Henry, translator). The Divina Commedia… Consisting of the Inferno—Purgatorio—and Paradiso. London: A. Strahan for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1802. Three volumes. Octavo, 19th-century three-quarter red polished calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, later red and green morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers and edges.
First edition of the first English translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, significant for "assisting to reestablish an audience for Dante, whose reputation had suffered a decline in the previous century" (ODNB), with frontispiece portrait of Dante by Thomas Stothard, in attractive calf-gilt.
The first English translation of the whole Divina Commedia of Dante, with Boyd's attempt to capture Dante's terza rima, which in English is extremely difficult to sustain. In 1785, Boyd had published his translation of the Inferno alone, "the first of its kind" (DNB). This printing also contains preliminary essays and notes to each of the three books. Volume I contains a historical essay on 13th- and 14th-century Florence, a "Life of Dante" by Leonardo Bruni (Chancellor of the Florentine Republic in the century after Dante's death), and ends with a "Summary View of the Platonic Doctrine," an essay by Boyd "comparing the First Part of Scott's Christian Life, Chap. III with the view of futurity given by Dante." Volume III includes an "Extract from the Symposium of Plato, speech attributed to Socrates, on the Means of acquiring the Love of God, or the First Good," and ends with an index to places and persons named in the text. Lowndes, 589. CBEL III:229. Bookplates, including that of Howard Murray, O.B.E.; library plates indicating presentation from Murray to the Fraser Institute Free Public Library of Montreal; early owner ink signature dated 1838. Contemporary bookseller's ticket.
Text clean, light rubbing to joints and corners, faint evidence of shelf labels to spines, spines toned. An extremely good, attractively bound copy.