New York: Basic Books, 1962. First edition thus. Three volumes. Octavo, original gray cloth, original orange cardboard slipcase with mounted label. Spines uniformly toned, scratches to label of volume III, joints of slipcase professionally restored. A near-fine set. Item #137
"A GREAT CHRISTIAN ALLEGORY, DERIVING ITS POWER FROM THE TERROR AND SPLENDOUR OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION" First edition of the esteemed Dorothy Sayers translation and critical edition of The Divine Comedy. With lengthy Introductions (to volumes I and II) by Sayers and with her Dedication to Charles Williams: "To the Dead Master/Of the Affirmations/CHARLES WILLIAMS." It was Williams who guided Sayers to Dante through his book The Figure of Beatrice. "In August 1943 she had come across a review of The Figure of Beatrice in the Sunday Times, read the book, and decided to tackle Dante's great poem, a task she had put off for years due to her faulty Italian. The following year, huddled in a backyard shelter during an air-raid, she began the Temple Classics dual-language Inferno. Dante's brilliant imagery and lightning pace mesmerized her; she finished the poem in five days and wrote Williams immediately, exclaiming with a schoolgirl's excitement that 'I found myself panting along with my tongue hanging out, as though it were a serial thriller,' and giving Williams full credit for her new passion." (Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings). Sayers completed Inferno in 1948 and Purgatory in 1954 but she died in 1957 before finishing work on Paradise (later completed by Barbara Reynolds in 1962). Maps and diagrams specially drawn for this edition by C. W. Scott-Giles. With a note: "The William Blake drawings are reproduced through the courtesy of the National Art-Collections Fund, London, which printed the complete set of 102 reproductions of Blake's Illustrations to the Divine Comedy when the collection was sold and broken up in 1918."