Designing the cover for The Divine Comedy

23 July 2013

Designer Stuart Wilson on how he came up with the cover for Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy.

The main story of the poem depicts Dante's journey through Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. I wanted to convey this in the cover, so I used colours that travel from Heaven above to Hell below. This gives it impact as well as a narrative approach. Using a classic Italian type face also adds authority and confidence to the overall design.

The opening ten lines of Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy

At the mid-point of the path through life, I found

Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way

Ahead was blotted out. The keening sound

I still make shows how hard it is to say

How harsh and bitter that place felt to me—

Merely to think of it renews the fear—

So bad that death by only a degree

Could possibly be worse. As you shall hear,

It led to good things too, eventually,

But there and then I saw no sign of those

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