Literature Italian Books I

Speaking on Love

Bembo, Pietro

Gli Asolani di Messer Pietro Bembo. Venice, Aldo Manuzio, March 1505.

4° (208x118 mm). Collation: a-m8, n2. Lacking fol. n2 blank. 97 of [98] leaves. Complete with the dedicatory epistle to Lucrezia Borgia (fols. a1v-a2r) and the errata leaf (fol. n1r-v). Italic and roman type. Aldine device on fol. m8v. Blankspaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Fine binding executed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, signed atfoot of spine by François Bozérian the Younger (‘REL.P. BOZERIAN JEUN'). Red straight-grain morocco over pasteboards, with elaborate gilt roll border framed with gilt and blind fillets. Board edges with diagonal hatch marks atthe corners of covers. Spine with five small raised bands underlined with gilt fillets; compartments richly gilt tooled on pointillé ground, title lettered in gilt on the second one, ‘ALDUS 1505' in gold at the foot. Inside dentelles, pale bluewatered silk doublures with gilt grape roll. Vellum flyleaves. Pale blue silk bookmark. Gilt edges. Extremities of spine slightly worn. An exceptionally fresh, wide-margined copy. Light dusting to the first leaf. The inked note ‘Paris' on the verso of the front silk flyleaf, written in a nineteenth-century hand.

Provenance: from the library of Count Leonardo Vitetti (1894-1973), Italian Ambassador to the United Nations (hislarge engraved armorial ex libris on the front pastedown, with inked shelfmark ‘Sala B, II, 32').

$ 22,000

A fine, wide-margined copy of the first edition, in its first issue, of this celebrated dialogue, written in Italian vernacular by the Venetian patrician and outstanding humanist Pietro Bembo between 1497 and 1504. A milestone in Italian Renaissance literary history. The friendship and collaboration between Bembo and Aldus Manutius began in 1495, when the printer issued De Aetna, which relates Bembo's famous 1493 stay in Sicily and his ascent of Mount Etna. A few years after, the humanist edited two celebrated modern classics for Aldus in the easily portable octavo format, the groundbreaking Petrarch of 1501 and the Dante of 1502. Bembo can rightly be defined as a sort of alter ego of Manutius, and it was he who showed Aldus a Roman coin with a dolphin and anchor carved on one side, an episode that marks the ‘birth' of the most famous emblem in the history of printing. In 1504 the Venetian Senate had granted Manutius a ten-year privilege for printing Bembo's work, and the Asolani appeared in March 1505. In its first issue the Asolani was introduced by Bembo's dedicatory epistle to Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Duke Alfonso I d'Este, dated Venice, 1 August 1504 (fols. a1v-a2r). This address was almost immediately suppressed, and the two pages left blank. The reasons for its removal so shortly after the publication have continually been discussed, and some scholars have suggested that Bembo and Duchess Lucretia could have been lovers. Copies that include – as in the present volume – the final leaf n1, with the errata (‘Errori fatti nel stampare'), are of the greatest rarity. Divided into three Books, the Asolani is a philosophical dialogue on the nature of love, which alternates between prose and verse, based on the model of Dante's Vita Nuova. The fictional conversation is set at Asolo, near Treviso, in the villa of Caterina Cornaro, the former queen of Cyprus. After having examined various conceptions of love, Bembo proposes the idea of neo-platonic or spiritual love, as a contemplative desire for an ideal and divine beauty. The work enjoyed enormous popularity in the Cinquecento, and already in July 1505 was reissued by the Florentine printers Giunta, in spite of Aldus's ten-year privilege. The first edition, especially in its rare first issue, was a ‘must' for the great nineteenth-century bookcollectors, as this fine copy, magnificently bound by the Parisian binder Bozérian the Younger, well shows.

Adams, B-578; Renouard Aldes, 48.1; Ahmanson-Murphy 72; Laurenziana 90; Marciana 105; Aldo Manuzio. Il Rinascimento a Venezia, Venezia 2016, 71; C. H. Clough, “Pietro Bembo's Gli Asolani of 1505”, MLN, 84 (1969), pp. 16-45; C. Kidwell, Pietro Bembo: Lover, Linguist, Cardinal, Montréal 2004.

An absolute gem of sixteenth-century book production

Folengo, Teofilo (1491-1544)

Opus Merlini Cocaii Poetae Mantuani Macaronicorum, totum inpristinam formam per me Magistrum Acquarium Lodolam optime redactum, in his infra notatistitulis divisum... . Toscolano, Alessandro Paganini, 5 January 1521.

16° (120x72 mm). Collation: A-Z8, AA-MM8. 272, [8] leaves. Italic, gothic, and roman type. Fifty-four full-page woodcut illustrations in text. Nineteenth-century red morocco, signed by Parisian binder Hippolyte Duru (1803-1884). Spine with five raised bands, title lettered in gilt. Marbled flyleaves. Inside dentelles, edges marbled and gilt. A fine copy.

Provenance: the famous writer and bibliophile Charles Nodier (1780-1844, his ex libris on the front pastedown and his own note on the rarity of the book and its condition, written on a small card pasted onto the second front flyleaf; cf. C. Nodier, Catalogue raisonné d'une jolie collection de livres, Paris 1844, lot 270); Antonio Marzorati (on the front flyleaf the stamp of the bookseller Lauria of Paris and a note in pencil, ‘È l'esemplare Marzorati – nr. 388 del suo catalogo”; cf. Catalogo della Biblioteca Marzorati, Bologna 1932, lot 388).

$ 16,500

The first illustrated edition of the Macaronee, the second issued by Paganini, and the third overall, considering the mere reprint appeared in Milan in 1520. The 1521 publication is known as the ‘Toscolano edition', and is the first to present the enlarged and completely revised version of Folengo's macaronic poems, with the Baldus expanded to twenty-five Books. For its content and editorial appearance, this edition is considered not only the most beautiful edition of Folengo's works, but also an absolute gem from across the entire field of sixteenth-century book production. The brilliant printer Paganini provided it with a newly cut set of illustrations destined to play an important role in the later fortune of the Macaronee. However, the Toscolano edition is important above all because it gives us the brightest and most inspired phase of Folengo's macaronic genius; a perfectly mature phase not yet dampened by the ideological or classicist inhibitions of his later period. Along with the definitive version of the Baldus, the volume contains the Zanitonella (a collection of twenty-one poems on rustic life), the Moscheide (a short poem on the battle of flies and ants, printed here for the first time), and the Libellus epistolarum et epigrammatum. At the end is a quire of eight unnumbered leavessigned MM, which is sometimes missing and is known in two different issues. The copy offered here represents the issue with the quire MM containing a brief letter exchanged between Folengo and Paganini, the errata, the Tabula facetiarum, and the sonnet Se di piacer, trastullo, gioia e spasso (cf. Nuovo, Alessandro Paganino, pp. 78-82). Two later revised versions of the poem are known: the Cipadense (published between 1530 and 1535 with false printing data) and Vigasio Cocaio from the name of the mysterious author of the preface (first printed in Venice in 1552).

Adams F-687; Nuovo, Alessandro Paganino (1509-1538), 51; PMM 62; Sander 2832; R. Dall'Ara, Folengo macaronico poeta. Girolamo, Teofilo e Merlin Cocai: il romanzo di una vita, Mantova 2004; A. Nuovo, “L'edizione toscolanese del Folengo”, G. Bernardi Perini and C. Marangoni (eds.), Teofilo Folengo nel quinto centenario della nascita, 1491-1991, Atti del convegno di studi Mantova-Brescia-Padova, 26-29 settembre 1991, Firenze 1993, pp. 387-402; M. Zaggia, “Breve percorso attraverso le quattro redazioni delle Macaronee folenghiane”, ivi, pp. 85-101.

Printed on blue paper

Bembo, Pietro (1470-1547)

Delle lettere di M. Pietro Bembo. Primo volume. Rome, Valerio and Luigi Dorico, September 1548.

4° (192x142 mm). PRINTED ON BLUE PAPER. Collation: *4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Eee4. Lacking quire *4, fols. B4, Ccc4, and the final quires Ddd and Eee. [2 of 10], 386 of 398 pages; lacking the last 4 unnumbered leaves. Italic and roman type. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Old vellum over pasteboards, gilt-tooled spine. Sewing rather weak, fols. A1, R1, Ccc1-Ccc3 somewhat loose. Near good copy, browning and spotting throughout, a few small stains; wormholes, occasionally affecting a few letters or words. The outer margin in quires A-F trimmed, without any loss; margins of the last leaves frayed. Early note on fol. A1r, ‘il 2o Tomo non fu mai stampato'. Nineteenth-century annotation on the rear pastedown, ‘mancante di 5 carte che contengono la lettera ad un Lorenzo Massolo, le tavole della Lettera e L'Errata'.

$ 1,800

One of the few copies printed on blue paper of the rare first posthumous edition of letters by Venetian patrician and outstanding humanist Pietro Bembo. During his lifetime, only a selection of Bembo's letters in Latin had appeared, in 1536. Recalling a tradition of classical antiquity which was first revived by Francesco Petrarca, Bembo had, however, planned to publish his entire correspondence in Italian vernacular, and the Vatican Library preserves a manuscript of the letters he had prepared for publishing. After Bembo's death, this plan was taken over by his literary executors, Carlo Gualteruzzi from Fano (1500-1577), and the Venetian Girolamo Querini (1466-1554). The first volume came to light in Rome in 1548, containing – as the second title printed on fol. A1v attests – the letters written to popes, cardinals, and other members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The title-page of the 1548 edition states that the publication is the ‘Primo volume', i.e. only the first volume of Bembo's letters. Indeed, the Roman printers Valerio and Luigi Dorico never published the following and implicitely announced volumes of Bembo's letters, owing to disagreements that had arisen between Gualteruzzi and Querini about the publication of other works by Bembo, above all his Historia veneta. The complete, five-volume collection was published only four year later, in 1552, by the Venetian printer Gualtiero Scoto. Intended for presentation, a few copies of the 1548 edition were issued on blue paper, in which cases the firstpreliminary quire is often lacking.

Adams B-604; Gamba 138.

No copies in America

Tarentino, Secondo (fl. mid 16th century)

Della Bradamante gelosa i cinque primi canti, di M. Secondo Tarentino. Al reverendissimo Monsignor Francesco Colonna Arcivescovo Tarentino. Venice, Giovanni Andrea Vavassori called Guadagnino, 1552.

8° (155x99 mm). Collation: A-I8, K4. 76 leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. With five half-page woodcut illustrations; five woodcut historiated initials at the beginning of each canto. Green morocco binding signed by Bauzonnet-Trautz. Covers framed with triple gilt fillets, spine with five raised bands and gilt title. Inside dentelles, marbled flyleaves, gilt edges. Corners and joints slightly worn. A very good copy; small stain in the outer margin of the first and last leaves.

Provenance: from the library of the Protestant Academy of Sedan (seventeenth-century ownership inscription‘Bibliotheca Sedanensis' on the title-page); Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869; see Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de M L****, Paris 1847, lot 1096; sold for 90 francs).

$ 10,000

Extremely rare first edition of this poem in ottava rima, of which only three copies are recorded among Italian institutional libraries. The Bradamante gelosa, with its elaborate plot full of action and adventure, is a celebration of human folly that overturns traditional chivalric values. Amidst the love story that unfolds between Bradamante, Orlando's cousin, and Ruggiero, Tarentino shows Medoro to be the real hero, while Orlando is repeatedly found being teased in front of Angelica. In the poem Medoro becomes an emblem of the ideal Renaissance Man, incontrast to Orlando, the arrogant and rough nobleman who relies only on his status and physical strength. The work was reissued in Venice by Guadagnino in 1562, and again by Domenico Imberti in 1619 and 1623. Little is known about the life and figure of Secondo Tarentino, who evidently originated from Taranto (Apulia). He was probably in the service of Francesco Colonna, archbishop of Taranto, to whom theBradamante gelosa is dedicated, and whose family is celebrated in a verse composition printed on the verso of the title-page as well as throughout the work. He also wrote the comedy Il capitan bizzarro, issued in Venice in 1551 and 1567. During the seventeenth century this copy was kept at the Academia Sedanensis, i.e., the Protestant Academy of Sedan, which was founded in 1607 under the leadership of Prince Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, and whose library was dispersed in 1642 after the French annexation of Sedan. Later the volume came into the possession of the well-known Italian collector and ‘bibliomane' Guglielmo Libri; the copy is described in the catalogue of his Parisian sale of 1847, with the high praise, “Charmant exemplaire, avec témoins, de cette édition originale et très rare, que M. Melzi n'a jamais pu voir” (Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de M L****, p.71).

Melzi-Tosi p. 272; M. Marti, “Prima ricognizione della ‘Bradamante gelosa' di Secondo Tarentino”, Letteratura e filologia. Studi in onore di C. F. Goffis, Foggia 1985, pp. 121-138.

Bound in painted vellum for Marquis Luigi Sylva

Tolomei, Claudio (1492-1555)

Il Cesano, dialogo di M. Claudio Tolomei, nel quale da più dotti huomini si disputa del nome, col quale si dee ragionevolmente chiamare la volgar lingua... (bound with:) Plato (427-ca. 347 BC). Il dialogo di Platone, intitolato il Timeo... Venice, [Orfeo Dalla Carta] for Comin da Trino, 1558. Venice, Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari & Brothers, 1555.

(bound with:) Plato (427-ca. 347 BC). Il dialogo di Platone, intitolato il Timeo, overo della natura del mondo. Tradotto di lingua greca in italiano da m. SebastianoErizzo, gentil'huomo venetiano. Et dal medesimo di molte utili annotationi illustrato, et nuovamente mandato in luce da Girolamo Ruscelli. Venice, [Orfeo Dalla Carta] for Comin da Trino, 1558.

Two works in one volume, 4° (205x143 mm). I. Collation: A-N4. [4], 97, [3] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcutprinter's device on the title-page and fol. N4v. Woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. II. Collation: *4, A-L4, K2. [4], 41, [1] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and fol. L2r. Woodcut decorated initials. Precious and unusual eighteenth-century, possibly Venetian painted vellum binding. Covers bearing at the centre a piece of marbled paper surrounded by strips of vellum decorated with geometric and floral patterns painted in green, blackand brown watercolour. Edges decorated with coloured floral motifs. Marbled flyleaves showing the same pattern as the piece of paper pasted on the covers. A good copy. In the first work bound small hole in the blank margin of fol. A2. Wormholes to the lower margin of about ten leaves of the second edition bound, and small loss to the outer corner of fol. D2, in both cases not affecting the text, some marginal stains. Early inked shelfmark ‘J:I:10' on the front flyleaf.

Provenance: the Milanese Marquis Luigi Silva (fl. eighteenth century; his ownership inscription and armorial stamp ingilt ‘D. LVIGI SYLVA' on the first title-page, repeated on fol. A2v).

$ 3,300

A volume finely and most unusually bound in painted vellum with paper insertions, from the exquisite library of Marquis Luigi Silva, and containing two sixteenth-century first editions. The volume opens with the first edition of the dialogue Il Cesano, composed by the Sienese Claudio Tolomei in 1525-1529, but printed only in 1555, on account of censorship. This fictional dialogue offers a synthesis of all major proposals circulating in those years around the debate over the Italian language, and its interlocutors are Pietro Bembo, Gian Giorgio Trissino, Baldassarre Castiglione, Alessandro de' Pazzi, and Gabriele Cesano. Following in the volume is the first edition, in the second issue (the first is dated 1557 on the title-page) ofthe first Italian version of Plato's famous dialogue Timaeus, translated from the Greek by the Venetian Sebastiano Erizzo (1525-1585). The volume was once owned by Luigi Silva, a member of the noble Milanese family famous for its interestin bookcollecting. Luigi Silva's books, bearing his elegant stamp in gilt, are scattered among various libraries, and the volume presented here – as with others bearing identical provenance, mostly referring to editions in Italian vernacular, as with the copy of the 1549 Giolito edition of Lodovico Domenichi's Nobiltà delle donne in the Bibliothèque Municipale in Roanne (158-BOU 264) – is housed in a fine painted vellum binding, possibly executed in a Venetian workshop. The remarkable binding is a fine example of Silva's especial taste forbeautiful books.

Bongi, I, p. 460; L. Sbaragli, Claudio Tolomei, umanista senese del Cinquecento, Siena, 1939; C. Tolomei, Il Cesano dela lingua toscana, ed. O. Castellani Pollidori, Firenze 1974. II. Hoffmann III, p. 147; J. Hankins, Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance, Rome 2005, II, p. 164; F. Tomasi, “Una scheda su Sebastiano Erizzo traduttoredel ‘Timeo”', Quaderni Veneti 3 (2014), pp. 47-48; Frati, Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei bibliotecari e bibliofili italiani, p. 519; M. F. Viallon, Catalogue du Fonds italien XVIe siècle de la Bibliothèque Municipale de Roanne, Saint-Etienne 1994; M. A. Foot, Pictorial Bookbindings, London 1986.

The first book entirely devoted to good manners

Della Casa, Giovanni (1503-1556)

Trattato di meser Giovanni Della Casa, nel quale sotto la persona d'un vecchio idiota ammaestrante un suo giovanetto si ragiona de modi, che si debbono o tenere, o schifare nella comune conversatione, cognominato Galatheo. Milan, Valerio Meda and Brothers for Giovanni Antonio degli Antoni, 1559..

8° (162x96 mm). Collation: A-E8, F4. 44 leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and at end. Woodcut decorated initials. Twentieth-century light brown leather, richly gilt tooled. Covers within concentric frames and one lozenge, at centre large fleuron. Spine with five raised bands, title in gilt lettering. Gilt edges. A fine copy.

$ 2,200

The first separate edition of the Galateo (The Book of Manners) by the celebrated Florentine prelate and diplomat Giovanni Della Casa. The Galateo is one of the most famous and influential courtesy books of the sixteenth century, “et qui passa longtemps pour le livre en prose italienne le mieux écrit après le Decameron de Boccace” (J. Balsamo, De Dante à Chiabrera, p. 211). The work was written by Della Casa between 1551 and 1555, in the fictional literary framework of lessons given by an old illiterate man to a young disciple, perhaps the author's nephew Annibale Ruccelai. The Galateo is named after the Bishop of Sessa (near Naples) Galeazzo Florimonte – in Latin Galatheus – with whom the author had long conversations in 1550 on such topics and who first suggested to him that he should write a courtesy book. The Galateo first appeared in print in 1558 in the Venetian collection of Della Casa's Rime et Prose, posthumously edited from his manuscripts by his former secretary Erasmo Gemini de Cesi and dedicated to Giacomo Querini. Owing to its elegant colloquial style and the clarity with which the rules of behaviour are enumerated, the work was enthusiastically received by a wide audience, and printed almost immediately in this separate edition. Numerous editions followed, and already in the sixteenth century the Galateo was translated into various European languages, thus establishing a successful literary genre. The early editions contain the first version of the text. Della Casa worked on a revision of it which was only published by Cugnoni in Rome in 1889.

Adams, C-813; A. Santosuosso, The Bibliography of Giovanni della Casa, Florence 1979, 20; J. Balsamo, De Dante à Chiabrera. Poètes italiens de la Renaissance dans la bibliothèque de la Fondation Barbier-Mueller, Genève 2007, II,89.

“Extraordinary is a much abused adjective but it certainly describes...Quaestiones definitae ex triplici philosophia, rationali, naturali, morali “ – F. R. Goff and V. I. Eaton –

Farnese Ottavio (1598-1643)

Quaestiones definitae ex triplici philosophia, rationali, naturali, morali, in Parmensi Academia publice triduum disputatae . Parma, Anteo Viotti, 1613.

Folio (338x233 mm). Collation: +4, A-Y8, Z10, Aa4. [8], 374 [i.e. 372], [8] pages. Complete with the last blank leaf. Woodcut printer's device at end. Fine engraved title-page by Francesco Villamena after Giovanni Battista Trotti, also known as Malosso da Cremona. One large engraved folding plate (596x448 mm). 348 woodcut calligraphic illustrationsin text by Antonio Ferrari after Brondolus (both names appear on fol. A1). Contemporary light yellow limp vellum, traces of silk ties. Slightly worn in places. A very good, genuine copy. Some browning and foxing, tear repaired to the folding plate.

$ 10,000

First edition, in its original binding, of this monumental and lavishly illustrated work, dedicated to Pope Paul V, and rightly famous for its marvellous calligraphic allegorical vignettes. The work is divided into three parts – devoted, respectively, to rational, natural and moral philosophy – and contains 2370 philosophical issues discussed by Ottavio Farnese, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Parma Ranuccio I. Only fifteen years old at the time, Ottavio also publicly debated these issues in the Cathedral of Parma between 16 and 17 June 1613, an academic marathon which garnered great acclaim in the city and throughout Italy. Unfortunately, after the birth of his first legitimate and healthy son, Duke Ranuccio revoked the feudal titles previously granted to Ottavio; the latter then organized a plot against his father, after which he was arrested while attempting to escape, and subsequently imprisoned. Ottavio died in 1643 after having spent the last twenty years of his life in detention. The volume is finely illustrated. Along with a fine engraved title-page after court artist Giovanni Battista Trotti (1555-1612), the work features a highly remarkable series of calligraphic allegorical vignettes which illustrate each chapter: the elaborate illustrations, placed as head- and tailpieces, are made of intertwined lines which combine to form human figures, animals, plants, musical instruments, amphorae, crowns, andvarious decorations. The vignettes were designed by a certain Brondulus, possibly one of Ottavio's tutors. The large folded table, which is not present in all copies, shows an arch with the pope's coat of arms at the top, surrounded by statues celebrating the power (temporal and spiritual) and virtues of the dedicatee. “Extraordinary is a much abused adjective but it certainly describes an early seventeenth-century bookprinted at Parma in 1613 entitled Quaestiones definitae ex triplici philosophia, rationali, naturali, morali...” (F. R. Goff - V. I. Eaton, Rare Books, p. 33).

Libreria Vinciana, 2179; F. R. Goff – V. I. Eaton, “Rare Books”, Library of Congress. Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions, 8 (1951), pp. 31-38.

Exceedingly rare complete set of Molière’s first Italian edition

Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)

Le opere di G. B. P. di Moliere, divise in quattro volumi, & arricchite di bellissime figure. Tradotte da Nic. di Castelli […] Tomo I [-IV]. Leipzig, Johann Ludwig Gleditsch at the author's expense, 1697-1698.

Four volumes, 12° (147x77 mm). General title-page printed in red and black in each volume, bearing the date 1698; each play has a separate title-page (dated 1697) along with its own pagination. The volumes are complete, as issued. I. Collation: π4(-π4), A-D12(-D12), E6, A-D12, E2, A12, B10, A12, B10, A-B12, C2, A-C12, D2(-D2), A-C12, D10(-D10), A-B12, C2(-C2). [6], 108, 100, 44, 44, 51, [1], 74, 89, [1], 50 pages. II. Collation: A-C12, D6, A12, B6, C2, A12, B6, C2, A-D12, A-D12, E4(-E4), A-B12, C10(-C10), A12, B6, C2(-C2), A-C12, D4. [4], 83, [1], 40, 40, 96, 102, 66, 38, 80 pages. III. π2, A-E12, F4, A-B12, C12(-C12), A-D12, A-E12, F6, G2(-G2), A-C12, D6, E2, A- D12, E4(-E4). [4], 127, [1], 70, 96, 134, 88, 101, [1] pages. IV. Collation: π2, A-C12, A-F12, A-D12(-D12), A-C12, D4, A-C12, D6(-D6), A12, B10(-B10), A12, B4, A12, B6(-B6), A-B12. [4], 71, [1], 143, [1], 94, 80, 81, [1], 41, [1], 32, 34, 47, [1] pages. Engraved frontispiece in vol. 1; Molière's engraved portrait on the verso of half-title in vol. 2; Castelli's portrait on the verso of half-title in vol. 3. Thirty-one engraved plates opening each play, mostly signed by Daucher. Woodcut ornaments on title-pages, decorated initials and headpieces. List of the comedies contained printed on the recto of halftitles. Uniform red crushed morocco, dated to 1880s and signed on the turn-ins by the London atelier Rivière & Son. Covers within triple gilt fillet. Spine with four small raised bands, underlined by gilt dotted fillets, compartments richly gilt tooled. Title, volume numbering, and imprint lettered in gilt on the second and third compartments. Board edges ruled in gold. Inside dentelles, marbled flyleaves. Gilt edges. Joints slightly worn. A very good copy, slightly browned, a few insignificant marginal tears.

Provenance: the banker Mortimer Loeb Schiff (1877-1931; his ex libris on the front pastedown of the first volume; see Catalogue of the famous library principally of fine bindings... formed by the late Mortimer L. Schiff, Esq., London, Sotheby & Co., London 1938).

$ 6,000

The rare and complete first edition in Italian of Molière's plays, translated by Nicolò di Castelli. Originating from Lucca, Castelli (b. 1661) moved to Germany around 1680, becoming secretary of the Elector of Brandenburg, and later professor of Italian in Halle. He published numerous translations and original works; however, his name is primarily linked to Molière's translation, whose purpose was to teach Italian to a German-speaking audience by using a universally appreciated text. The translation contains the 150 macaronic verses in the reception scene of the Malade imaginaire as well as the complete version of the beggar's scene in the Festin de Pierre, as Castelli had access to the rare, and still not censored Rouen edition of 1673. Castelli's version was frequently reprinted until the publication of Gozzi's translation in Venice in 1756-1757. This edition is rarely found complete with all thirty-one plays, each of which has its own title-page and pagination, and therefore also had a separate circulation. This copy includes, in the second volume, La Principessa di Elida, often lacking in recorded copies. This set was once owned by Mortimer L. Schiff, who took a special interest in the bindings of his books. In 1935 Seymour De Ricci published a four-volume catalogue of the signed bindings preserved in Schiff's library, mainly executed in France and England by the most sought after eighteenth- and nineteenth-century bookbinders.

Michel & Michel V, 184; Rasi, p. 456; Lacroix, Bibliograhie molièresque, pp. 148, 593; P. Toldo, L'oeuvre de Molièreet sa fortune en Italie, Turin 1910, pp. 202-206; B. Croce, “Un insegnante di lingua italiana in Germania: Nicolò di Castelli”, Idem, Nuovi saggi sulla letteratura italiana del Seicento, Bari 1949, pp. 358-368.

Manzoni’s renewal of the Catholic faith

Manzoni, Alessandro (1785-1873)

Inni sacri di Alessandro Manzoni. Milano, Pietro Agnelli, 1815.

8° (200x127 mm). 37, [3] pages. Complete with the last blank leaf. Modern green half-morocco, marbled covers. A verygood, uncut copy. Light occasional foxing.

Provenance: Giorgio Fanan (engraved ex libris on the front pastedown).

$ 3,000

The very rare first edition of one of the earliest works published by the outstanding Milanese writer and poet, a collection of five ‘Sacred Hymns' testifying to Manzoni's renewal of the Catholic faith. Manzoni was the grandson of progressive jurist Cesare Beccaria, the celebrated author of Dei delitti e delle pene. Educated in a liberal and laic milieu fostered by French Enlightenment thought, in 1808 he married Henriette Blondel (1791-1833), the daughter of a Genevan banker who was originally a Calvinist. Soon after the marriage, she converted to Roman Catholicism, and her conversion was favoured and prepared by the Jansenist priest from Genoa Eustachio Degola (1761-1826). Manzoni was deeply struck by Henriette's choice, and his spiritual crisis was accelerated by the reading of Gospels, Augustine, and numerous other religious books, as well as the frequent discussions with father Degola. Two years later, in 1810, here discovered and confirmed his Catholic faith, becoming one of the most important representatives of Italian Catholic liberalism. The conversion also marked the beginning of a new phase in Manzoni's literary production, of which the Inni Sacri offers especially striking evidence, revealing his road to spiritual redemption as well as the depth of his religious beliefs, permeated by notions of charity and human piety. Originally conceived as a cycle of twelve hymns celebrating the chief feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, only five hymns were actually composed by Manzoni: La Resurrezione, Il nome di Maria, Il Natale, La Passione and the famous and highly appreciated La Pentecoste. “It was the discovery of such humana caritas and pietas, together with the desire that the civitas Dei finally triumph on earth that inspired the Hymns and Manzoni's other poetic works” (E.G. Caserta, “Manzoni's Sacred Hymns”, p. 527).

Parenti, Rarità bibliografiche dell'Ottocento, I, pp. 167-168; Vismara, 196; E. G. Caserta, “Manzoni Sacred Hymns”, Italica, 50 (1973), pp. 524-550.

The first collection of Leopardi’s poetry

Leopardi, Giacomo (1798-1837)

Canzoni. Bologna, Pei tipi del Nobili e comp., 1824.

8° (158x97 mm). 196, [4 of 6] pages (including the imprimatur ed errata, lacking the penultimate blank leaf). Later Jansenist style brown morocco. Spine with five small raised bands. Title in gilt lettering in the second compartment, imprint at the foot, likewise in gold. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, inside dentelles. Gilt edges. A very good copy, the first and last leaves slightly browned.

$ 6,200

Rare first edition of the first poetic collection published by the celebrated poet from Recanati, one of the greatest poetic voices of all time. The volume contains ten canzoni composed by Leopardi between 1818 and 1823, only three of which had already appeared in print, i.e. the so-called ‘patriotic poems', All'Italia and Sopra il Monumento di Dante, which were published in Rome in 1818, and the Canzone ad Angelo Mai, which was issued in Bologna in 1820. The other seven canzoni are more intimate in character, and were published here for the first time: Nelle nozze della sorella Paolina, A un vincitore nel pallone, Bruto minore, Alla primavera, Ultimo canto di Saffo, Inno ai Patriarchi, and Alla sua Donna. Although Leopardi called his first ten published poems canzoni, their structure is already freer than the conventional canzone form, revealing his gradual loosening of traditional metric, and his progressive passage from a ‘public' poetic voice to a more intimate one that explores emotional experiences; this stylistic and personal itinerary would culminate in the publication, in 1831, of his Canti, the most important collection of Italian poetry of the nineteenth century. Around 500 copies of the Canzoni were printed in August 1824, and according to the publisher Pietro Brighenti, fifty copies – bound in boards – were personally given to Leopardi. The book was only put on the market in October, and “the Bolognese edition of his canzoni (1824) brought him endless trouble with the censorship in the Papal States and elsewhere. When in 1826 he went after a government post in Bologna (a papal legation at that time) the Vatican was informed that it would be ill-advised to employ Leopardi because he had shown sentiments favourable to politically subversive opinion in his canzoni” (P. Williams, An Introduction to Leopardi's Canti, Leicester 2004, p. 27).

Mazzatinti & Menghini, Bibliografia leopardiana, 647; Catalogo del fondo leopardiano, 73; Benedettucci 21; G. Leopardi, Canti edizione critica, ed. De Robertis, pp. xxxix-xliv.

No, not your poem. Weird... weird... how I felt while you were saying it — The Postman

Neruda, Pablo (1904-1973)

Los versos del capitan. Arte Tipografica, 8 July 1952.

4° (246x165 mm). 181, [3] pages, including the Elenco de los subscriptores and Index. Original publisher's wrappers. Excellent copy, minor wear to the foot of the spine. Front wrapper slightly foxed. Copy no. 35, printed for the 'subscriptor' Bruno Molajoli.

Provenance: the Italian art historian Bruno Molajoli (1905-1985), one of the subscribers of this publication.

The first edition of one of the rarest twentieth-century books, issued anonymously – or, as the colophon states, “de autor desconocido” – in only forty four copies printed for friends and subscribers.

Los versos del capitan is considered one of the masterpieces of the celebrated Chilean poet and 1971 Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, whose real name was Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

Owing to his protests against President González Videla's authoritarian policy, Neruda was forced to flee Chile for Europe. The poetic collection Los versos del capitan was written in 1952 during his exile on the island of Capri and published in Naples on 8 July 1952 by Arte Tipografica, the press led by his friend Angelo Rossi.

The collection contains Neruda's passionate love songs addressed to his muse, Matilde Urrutia (1912-1985), who became his third wife in 1963, and ultimately his widow. The first edition was published without mention of Neruda's name as their love affair was still a secret at the time.

Neruda's stay in Italy was fictionalized in Antonio Skarmeta's 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia, which inspired the popular film Il Postino (The Postman, 1994), directed by Massimo Troisi.

The work only appeared in Chile in 1963, in a publication bearing the name of Neruda as the author.

J. Wilson, A Companion to Pablo Neruda: Evaluating Neruda's Poetry, Woodbridge 2008, pp. 194-196; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 286.