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Travel through time at The John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library‘s FREE landmark exhibition Designing Dante, explores the works of Italian medieval author Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).

On display until 1 October, view a first edition of his most famous poem, The Divine Comedy, a 14,233 line masterpiece that was printed in 1472. The Divine Comedy is a fictional eyewitness account of his journey through Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, an evocative and multi-sensory account of the torment of the damned and rapture of the blessed.

This exhibition explores both Dante’s design of his afterlife, and the ways the poem itself has been designed and presented in manuscript, print, visual media and sound in the 700 years since his death. The Rylands holds one of the greatest collections of Dante books in the world, many of which will be on display in this landmark exhibition.

What’s on Display:

  • Explore Dante’s vision of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise through iconic illustrated rare books and manuscripts, including the first two editions to have printed images from 1481 and 1487.
  • Uncover how book design has evolved from handwritten manuscripts to digital editions.
  • Compare the first three editions of the Commedia, all printed in 1472, with the first Spanish (1515) and French printed translations (1595).
  • See visualisations of Dante’s afterlife through time, including Renaissance diagrams of Inferno, silent film, contemporary adaptations and a digitised manuscript.