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Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Graphic Adaptation
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Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Graphic Adaptation

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  1,508 ratings  ·  189 reviews
The "left-handed designer," Seymour Chwast has been putting his unparalleled take-and influence-on the world of illustration and design for the last half century. In his version of Dante's Divine Comedy, Chwast's first graphic novel, Dante and his guide Virgil don fedoras and wander through noir-ish realms of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, finding both the wicked and the w ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 6th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2010)
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3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,508 ratings  ·  189 reviews

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1. Can you read 14th century Italian?

YES → Original text
NO → 2

2. Are you T.S. Eliot?

YES → Original text
NO → 3

3. Can you read a Scandinavian language?

YES → 4
NO → 6

4. Are you looking for something that's beautiful, mystical and philosophically engaging, but is also 1500 pages long, contains a lot of weird sex, and needs to be read three times before you actually understand what it's about?

YES → Jan Kjærstad's "Jonas Wergeland" tril
MJ Nicholls
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Researching Dante’s Divine Comedy for a new novel idea. Good place to start, this: packs in all the tortures, Greek references and relevant historical detail. (Having not read TDC, of course, I only have Mr. Chwast’s word for that). Can’t help feeling the punishments weren’t always equal here, on a stratum-by-stratum level. Gluttons were made to lie in a mire of excrement, while carnal sinners were simply tossed about the air, like on a fun wind simulator. Whee! Let’s be carnal! Whee! Also, in t ...more
David Edmonds
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2010
I'm not even going to waste much time on this review. I didn't really like the book. At all. The only reason I'm giving it 2 stars is that it may open up the possibility to someone to read Dante's actual The Divine Comedy because of the simplistic telling here. It may help someone who feels the story too daunting to understand a little better what's happening. Maybe.

It's the simplicity that detracts me from enjoying this volume. Chwast takes the epic poem and breaks it down into one line synopse
Jul 13, 2010 added it
Dante's Divine Comedy has, from its earliest days, attracted illustrators ranging from an anonymous 14th-century illuminator, to Botticelli and Blake and Doré. In our day, it has inspired the likes of Leonard Baskin, Salvador Dali and Barry Moser. So why shouldn't Chwast, of Pushpin Studios, try his hand? No reason.

But here's the thing. He didn't illustrate Dante's Divine Comedy. Instead, he summarized it and illustrated the summary. It's 127 pages, mostly illustrations. My copies of the Divine
Gurveen Kaur
This isn't going to be an easy book to review because I'm not sure how to adequately word my feelings. I know what I'm feeling, I know I didn't enjoy the book but that it was okay..but how to explain that "okay" is the tough bit.

If anyone reads this before reading or without enough knowledge about Dante's work and thoughts in The Divine Comedy, this may not seem all that interesting. I guess that's because it just doesn't seem passionate, if you know what I mean. It honestly feels like Chwast w
Sep 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arcs-and-promos
First, thank you very much to Goodreads and Bloomsbury USA for awarding me this book as a First Reads title! This is a great program that spurs discussions on books. Now on to my review...

I started this book having previously read Inferno, but not Purgatorio or Paradiso. Despite that, my reaction was pretty uniform over all three sections. I have to say I was disappointed.

I really wanted this graphic adaptation to be the bridge that makes this great classic more accessible to modern readers. If
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway, thanks Goodreads and Bloomsbury!

I have always been intrigued by Dante's Divine Comedy, but unfortunately I never got the chance to study it in college as an English major (I know!). So I thought this would be perfect. A simplified graphic novel version of the epic is about all I can manage at this busy stage in my life. I was excited.

This was a quick read. It's an extremely short summary of the work. The writing seems quick and hasty, as do the illustr
Michael Emond
Apr 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am really concerned that people rated this book above one star. Not only is the art in this book at the level of a third grader (I Googled the creator because I wanted to make sure this wasn't the case) but the story is nearly incomprehensible. I picked it up at the library because I love the ideas contained in Dante's Divine Comedy and I thought the idea of a graphic novel of his work was an excellent idea. Then I started reading it and my jaw hit the ground at how bad the art was. what black ...more
Enjoyable adaptation of the Divine Comedy, but one that made me feel that I needed to read the real thing (or a more detailed summary) to understand a lot of it. It felt more like a fun read for those who are already familiar with Dante's work than a guide for the perplexed. I enjoyed the bold, noir-ish illustrations although I did really want to colour them in. I might keep it as a colouring book.
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
If you want the barest outline of Dante's Divine Comedy presented in a visual style only slightly more advanced than that of my eight year old, then this is your book. I'm honestly at a loss to see why this artist is so acclaimed and influential.
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
I received Dante's Divine Comedy: A Graphic Adaptation for free through Goodreads First Reads program.

As a graphic novel, it was a quick read, so I made it through in two days' time. As I pen my review, I feel that to do it justice, I really ought to take a two-pronged approach: First to review Dante's Divine Comedy, and then to review Chwast's illustrated adaptation of it.

As I followed Dante through hell, purgatory, and heaven, I was surprised at how contemporary he made his poetry. Sometimes,
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This adaptation of the journey to heaven and hell is a zoot suit riot!

Imagine Dante Alighieri as a trenchcoat-wearing 1930's sleuth, and Virgil as the Monopoly Man. Imagine souls dressed like flappers dancing and an artistic style that recalls doodles in an English Literature notebook, and you'll have the essence of this book. One of the quotes on the back: "Hell doesn't look so bad. I'm almost looking forward to floating in pools of excrement... Seymour has put the comedy back into the divine."
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this to test my kindle - i.e., if I would enjoy reading an ebook - and I only chose it bc it was the first thing I found on overdrive, oddly enough. I tried reading the actual divine comedy last year for book club but found it just too dense and hard to understand without constant googling. I will read it eventually, but this was a great companion piece for before then! basically a summary of each canto, with sarcastic illustrations depicting dante & co. as 40s bogart-esque characters ...more
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Great adaptation of Dante's Divine Comedy!
In my opinion, this adaptation only makes a great deal of sense if you know Dante's Divine Comedy. For those who aren't familiar with it, I do hope this graphical piece tickles their interest to go 'n grab a copy of the original!
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I haven't read the real Divine Comedy, but I feel like this is a good first step (baby step!). It is very bare bones, gives you a visual and a brief overview of each circle. No real story line.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is a very, very simplistic overview of Dante's Divine Comedy. As a high school librarian, I think this graphic adaptation is a fantastic way to introduce this classic literature to teens.
Apr 17, 2011 added it
Lately I have really enjoyed me some epic poems in new forms or new translations. I had to reread Beowulf for my M.A. exam, and I was surprised by how much I genuinely liked Seamus Heaney's 2001 translation. Then I picked up the most recent version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a poem I remember liking anyway, but liked particularly as translated by Simon Armitage. Now these are both new translations, in verse, that are in my opinion better than the translations that I have read in the pas ...more
Inna Komarovsky
Mar 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sequential
After a brief description of Dante's life and things that might influence this work, it goes through the story using images with thick outlines and simplistic figures. The tone is matter-of-fact and really stripped of emotion, even the suffering people who yell "no!" "help!" or when the narrator says I fainted of emotion. The narrator, who is supposed to be Dante, is dressed in a trench coat, and he's wearing a hat and sunglasses and always has a pipe in his mouth, speaking out of the edges of h ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to willaful by: First Reads
Shelves: first-reads
(Won from First Reads.)

There are some wonderful visual images in this book, but on the whole, I was underwhelmed. The story is a bare bones summary of the plot of the original, which I found pretty hard to follow. The real body of the work is the pen & ink illustrations, which use archtypal images from the 1920's in an amusing way; I particularly enjoyed the scenes using repeating images of people in chorus lines or odd patterns. (There may be tips of the hat to M.C. Escher here, and perhaps
Mary Overton
You, too, can read Dante's masterpiece in 30 minutes.

The souls in Heaven make up "A Mystic Rose."
"Angels flew like bees from God, gathering eternal salvation to the souls in the Rose and back again."
"St. Bernard describes the order of the souls in the Rose. The Virgin sits on top of half the Rose. The other half is headed by John The Baptist. Gabriel embraces Mary with his wings." pp.123-5
This is a superb version of Dante's masterpiece and brings the epic poem to life with simple yet superb illustrations and text that keeps the main points of Dante's work without alienating mainstream readers and allowing Chwast's own personality to come through. An enjoyable read that makes Dante's work even more widely available and readable without losing any of its impact.
Nick Ragust
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a strange story. The story follows Dante through the trials of fumbling his way through hell with Virgil to seek paradise beyond. He ventures through the circles of hell meeting monsters along the way. I could not follow this story too well and it confused me for the most part. However, the artwork in it is very simple and almost looks as if a 12 year old had drawn out an elaborate story.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics
A slapdash run through the divine comedy never giving us more than an abbreviated cliff notes version with lazy art. Half the pages are the torments of hell which are more picturesque, but then the other thirds of the story each get one quarter of the space total, making purgatory and paradise even more surface skimmed.
Emilia P
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Confirms my previous unfounded understanding that Hell is the best of the three, and Heaven is sort of boring (slash where Dante's personal grudges are the most obvious). The best sort of Cliffs Notes -- here's the circles of hell, here's the tiers of purgatory, here are the spheres of heaven. Here's what was in them. The end.
Mike Raymond
This comic is about Dante and another guy (I forget his name) that go through all the stages of hell and such to try and get to heaven. This book was actually very interesting and I liked it a lot, it was exciting and pretty funny at the same time. If you ever thought about reading this book then you should definitely.
Ben De Bono
This is an absolutely hilarious rendition of the Commedia! While it's far from a replacement for the actual text, the creative drawings aren't half bad at helping to visualize some of the more abstract parts of Dante (though there are a few mistakes here and there). Highly recommended
Sep 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
Extremely simplistic in both artwork & execution. Disappointing.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
There are huge missing pieces from the original in this adaptation and the illustrations are not pleasant.
Katherine Wilkins Bienkowski
I wasn't crazy about the . . . graphics, but it was an engaging overview of the Divine Comedy.
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