Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno Purgatory Paradise Hardcover – Aug 24 2010
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“Dante + Seymour = Heaven.” ―Maira Kalman, author of The Principles of Uncertainty
“Seymour's take on this timeless classic is not only charming and clever, it is so cannily rendered that it makes Dante's complex masterwork easily understood for any reader. Divine.” ―Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys
“I have to say, seen through Seymour Chwast's eyes, Hell doesn't look so bad. I'm almost looking forward to floating in pools of excrement or being tossed about carelessly by furious winds. Seymour Chwast has put the comedy back into the divine in this fiendishly heavenly extravaganza.” ―Marian Bantjes, graphic artist
“Seymour Chwast! Oh, how I hate him! He's already the top artist! He's already the top designer! Now he's gonna be the top graphic novelist! Seymour Chwast can go to Hell!” ―Craig Yoe, author of The Art of Steve Ditko
“With all due respect to Dante, this is Chwast's Divine Comedy … [Chwast] makes the Divine Comedy irresistibly comic and inspirationally transcendent.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Famed artist and graphic designer Chwast has turned his talents to the graphic novel form for the first time, and we can all be happy about it…With his signature mix of humor, artistry, and high-level design, he conveys a breathtaking amount of information in clear black and white line drawings…Chwast does a stunning job of telling Dante's story in his own brilliant style.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Seymour Chwast was born in New York City and is a graduate of The Cooper Union, where he studied illustration and graphic design. He is a founding partner of the celebrated Push Pin Studios, whose distinct style has had a worldwide influence on contemporary visual communications. In 1985 the studio's name was changed to the Pushpin Group, of which Mr. Chwast is the director. More information about Mr. Chwast can be found at www.pushpininc.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As a longtime fan of "the left-handed designer" (I too am left-handed), I find Chwast's graphic, black & white adaptation of Dante's Divine Comedy irresistible. It is funny and I laughed out loud several times when reading it. And it is also poignant; I had tears in my eyes when I read the final words about "the love that moves the sun and other stars." One can read the Divine Comedy from a religious or a secular perspective, and from the latter perspective and perhaps the former as well, it can be read as a story about the human condition. For me, the lightheartedness of Chwast's illustrations serve to offset rather than undermine the gravity of the story (if read as a story about the human condition).
This book will certainly be of interest to other fans of Chwast's work, and I think it would make a nice gift for anyone who is interested in (and/or creates) humorous illustration. Do note that as I mention above, the book is in black & white; only the covers are in color.
At any rate, if you are in the market for a simple version of Dante's Divine Comedy, this is... an option. I can't say it's the best option. It may well be, but I don't know what else is out there for that. Look into what his, and keep this one in mind since it may be the simplest version out there, but don't be surprised at the underwhelming feeling you get when you receive your copy and open it up.
Perhaps the reader of this review would say, "So much the better. This is a graphic novel, not a traditional book." I agree. However, the graphics had better be good if the book is to succeed; they are not. I just took a moment to look at Gustave Dore's wonderful illustrations for The Divine Comedy and then Sandow Birk's illustrations for The Inferno section of Dante's great poem. Some readers will be familiar with Dore and Birk and be much disappointed in Chwast's amateurish efforts.
The Divine Comedy is a difficult read for the modern reader not familiar with Florentine history and a cast of characters known to historians and academics, but not the general reading public. Chwast does a fairly good job making some of the people Dante mentions and their back story understandable; but few, I think, will take much interest in Chwast's truncated version of Dante's great poem.
Chwast fails both to tell a good story and illustrate it with creative and exciting art. This book has not yet been published; it should stay that way.