Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375).
La Theseide... Innamoramento piaceuole, & honesto di due Giouani Thebani Arcita & Palemone; D’ottaua Rima nuouamente ridotta In Prosa per Nicolao Granucci di Lucca. Aggiuntoui un breve Dialogo nel principio e fine dell’Opera diliteuole, & vario. Lucca, Vincenzo Busdraghi for Giulio Guidoboni, 1579.
8o (154x100 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: a8, A-S8 (fol. F4 signed G4). 8, 144 leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Woodcut decorated seven-line initials and headpieces. Fine Parisian red morocco over pasteboards, signed by Hippolyte Duru, and executed in 1847. Covers within double blind fillet. Spine with five small raised-bands, emphasized by blind fillets; title lettered in gold. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves; edges-boards decorated with gilt fillet, inside dentelles. Gilt edges. A good copy; restored upper margin of leaves, some letters of the running titles reconstructed at the time of the binding.
Provenance: Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869; Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de M L****, Paris 1847, lot 2299, “La Theseide, di Gio Boccaccio... Lucca, Vinc. Busdraghi, 1579, in 8. Mar. r. d. Duru. Exemplaire en papier bleu de cette ouvrage curieux”. Sold for 40 francs).
Very rare edition of Boccaccio's Teseida, presented here in a copy exceptionally printed on blue paper, and in a fine binding executed for Guglielmo Libri by the renowned Parisian binder Hippolyte Duru.
Boccaccio composed the Teseida in order to demonstrate that a classical epic could be written in a vernacular language. The text was produced in three redactions, the first beginning in the early 1340s, and the second and third in the late 1340 and early 1350s. On the model of Vergilius' Aeneis, the poem is divided into twelve books, and consists of 1,238 octaves. The Teseida combines elements from the classical epics and the contemporary tradition of love literature, and was first printed in Ferrara in 1475, edited on the basis of a contaminated text assembled by the Ferrarese Pietro Andrea de' Bassi. After the Venetian edition of 1529, the Teseida appeared again in Italy only fifty years later, thanks to Nicolò Granucci, who rewrote the text in prose.
Boccaccio's work had notable popularity in the English literature of the Middle Ages, and served as the primary sources for Geoffrey Chaucer's Knight's Tale, included in his Canterbury Tales. “Several books occupied Chaucer's desk while he was composing The Knight's Tale [...] The most important book on that very crowded desk was the Teseida” (Coleman, The Knight's Tale, p. 87).
STC Italian 112; D. Anderson, Before the Knight's Tale. Imitation of Classical Epic in Boccaccio's “Teseida”, Philadelphia 1988; W. E. Coleman, “The Knight's Tale”, R. M. Correale, M. Hamel. Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales, Cambridge 2005, 2, pp. 87-124; R. Daniels, Boccaccio and the Book, London 2009, p. 57; W. E. Coleman, “Teseida delle nozze d'Emilia”, T. De Robertis, C. M. Monti et al. (eds.), Boccaccio autore e copista, Firenze 2013, pp. 89-99; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 155.