If I had limitless amounts of money or a generous, wealthy friend, these are some things I’d absolutely love to have.
1. An illuminated manuscript of the Commedia! Having recently read Ross King’s The Bookseller of Florence, I have such renewed love for these beautiful books. So much time and effort went into making them, and no two are alike. Many also are replete with gorgeous full-page artwork, and/or lots of illustrations around the text.
2. An early printed edition. While not holding a candle to what came before, many nevertheless are just as beautiful in their own ways, particularly if they have illustrations.
3. An edition with Bartolomeo Pinelli’s darling 1820s illustrations. Of the illustrators I’m familiar with, he’s my absolute favourite. His drawings are just so cute and sweet, and rather in my own style of cartoon-like human figures.
4. This is beyond a long shot, but it would be absolutely fantastic if we ever found Dante’s original notes and rough drafts!
5. Any one of the paintings I’ve been illustrating my Dantean posts with. There are so many I’d love to hang on my walls.
6. An edition of the Commedia with Stradanus’s illustrations of Inferno. He’s my next-fave illustrator, though sadly only illustrated the first canticle. I just love his gorgeous sepia tones.
7. The Durling-Martinez translations of Purgatorio and Paradiso. They’re so ridiculously expensive, as though they’re gold-leaf and leather-bound! With any luck, their prices will eventually drop to at least a more reasonable $15 or so.
8. The 1902 translation by Charles Eliot Norton. Despite its age, what I’ve read of it sounds pretty nice, not at all burdened by faux-archaisms and flowery Elizabethan prose.
9. The Thomas G. Bergin translation of 1948–54, which features illustrations by Leonard Baskin. I’m also very interested in this edition, since Prof. Bergin was such a renowned scholar of Italian literature.
10. The 1481 printed edition with Boticelli’s illustrations.
11. The printed edition of circa 1495 with much more successful Botticelli illustrations. While most of these pictures are unfinished, they’re still a wonder to behold, and some of his finest work.
12. The illuminated manuscript with Paradiso illustrated by Giovanni di Paolo, done circa 1444–50. Two still-unidentified artists did the other two canticles.
13. A verified letter Dante wrote to anyone.
14. Original notes for and/or a rough draft of any of his other works.
15. I know this is almost impossible, but I’d love to find a tiny bit of Dante’s bone dust in something like a vial or pendant. Ravenna guards his remains so closely, as discussed in Guy Raffa’s book Dante’s Bones, and wasn’t very pleased to discover some of his bone dust and the imprint of his darkened skull on paper have been in Florence and other cities for quite some time.