Cancellieri, Francesco (1751-1826).
Dissertazione... intorno agli uomini dotati di gran memoria ed a quelli divenuti smemorati. Con un’Appendice delle Biblioteche degli scrittori, sopra gli eruditi precoci, la memoria artificiale, l’arte di scegliere e di notare, ed il giuoco degli scacchi. Rome, Francesco Bourlie, 1815.
8° (193x105 mm). XI, , 168 pages. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine. A very good, uncut copy. Minor foxing in places, the lower blank margin of the title-page slightly soiled. A few pencilled bibliographical notes on the rear pastedown.
Provenance: Marco Mazzoni (ownership inscription on the title-page).
First and only edition of this curious work by the Roman Jesuit Francesco Cancellieri. After the suppression of the Order, Cancellieri became librarian to Cardinal Leonardo Antonelli (1730-1811), whose library was at the Palazzo Pamphili in Piazza Navona, a post he held until the Cardinal's death. In addition to this position, Cancellieri was also superintendent of the Propaganda printing press.
The first, and by far longest, part of the work is devoted to men and women with exceptional memories – people who were able to memorise the entire Bible, like the Italian humanist Isotta Nogarola, or, in general, people who have displayed extraordinary mnemonic capacities: famous philosophers, historians, and poets are quoted here, including, among others, Onofrio Panvinio, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Torquato Tasso, and Ludovico Antonio Muratori, to mention only a few. The second part deals with precocious, learned men like Ermolao Barbaro and Giacomo Leopardi, who was able to learn Greek without a teacher at the age of sixteen. Two bibliographical appendices follow, one on artificial memory, the other on the game of chess. The last part relates to people who have lost their memory owing to age, disease, or trauma (which, in Malebranche's case, was also a means of recovering it).
A. Chicco - A. Sanvito, Lineamenti di una bibliografia italiana degli scacchi in Italia, Roma 1987, 138; Young 57; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 262.