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Scarce New Greek version of Bertoldino

Croce, Giulio Cesare (1550-1609).

[New Greek] Bios tou Bertoldinou diou tou panourgiou Mpertoldou, kai ai geloiótatai aito aplótetes.

Croce, Giulio Cesare (1550-1609). [New Greek] Bios tou Bertoldinou diou tou panourgiou Mpertoldou, kai ai geloiótatai aito aplótetes. Venice, Nikolaos Glykys the Younger, 1818.

8° (172x108 mm). 92 pages. Woodcut vignette on the title-page and five illustrations in text. Later nineteenth-century grey cloth. Smooth spine with two paper labels, one bearing the inked title ‘Bertoldino'. Contemporary decorated paper wrappers bound in. Minor waterstaining at beginning and end. Later notes and scribbles inside the wrappers.

Provenance: the scholar, linguist, and hakham (i.e. clever man) Moses Gaster (1856-1939; his stamp on the title-page).

Scarce edition in New Greek of this small chapbook on the adventures of the simpleton Bertoldino, son of Bertoldo, based on the celebrated novel by Giulio Cesare Croce. Le sottilissime astutie di Bertoldo by Croce – considered one of the most successful self-taught authors of Italian literature, having little formal training and being the author of over 400 works – is a version of the popular medieval tale of the crude but savvy peasant Bertoldo at the court of King Alboin. Published first in Milan in 1606, it was met with great and unexpected success. Its sequel, Le piacevoli et ridicolose simplicità di Bertoldino, was published two years later, in 1608, and relayed the tale of the “pleasant but ridiculous” Bertoldino, in the charge of his “subtle and witty” mother, Marcolfa. The volume was published by the press established by Nikolaos Glykys in Venice in 1670, which remained in business until 1854. The Glykys printing house specialised in the production of liturgical books and popular literary works – usually, as here, printed on cheap paper with woodcut illustrations – for the Greek population residing in Venice as well as in the Ottoman Empire, playing a crucial role in the cultural transfer from West to East. This edition is extremely rare. Only one other copy, held at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, has been traced. The copy offered here was once owned – as his stamp on the title-page attests – by Moses Gaster, the author of the Crestomaie român (1891). Born in Bucarest, Gaster focused his research on popular Romanian literature, including its reception of Croce's novel, which was translated into Romanian from a Greek intermediate. This copy therefore provides striking evidence of his particular scholarly interest.

K. P. Staikos, Printer's and Pubishing's Marks in Books for the Greek World, New Castle, DE 2009, esp. pp. 104-121; A. Chiriac, “The German ‘Bertoldo' in Transylvania. On the Process of Cultural Transfer from West towards East at the End of the 18th Century”, International Journal of Arts & Sciences (2015), pp. 517-528.