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[Shakespeare] Masuccio Salernitano (1410-1475).

Nouella di Marioto Senese. [Italy, 1530s].

€ 12.000
The ancestors of Romeo and Juliet
[Shakespeare] Masuccio Salernitano (1410-1475).. Nouella di Marioto Senese.. [Italy, 1530s].

8° (142x95 mm). [*]4. [4] leaves. Small woodcut vignette on the title-page. One decorated initial on the recto of the first leaf. Nineteenth-century red boards, spine slightly rubbed. Title lettered in gilt on the front cover. Red edges. A good copy, upper margin trimmed, some browning and foxing.

Exceedingly rare separate edition of the thirty-third tale from a masterpiece of Italian popular literature, the Novellino by Masuccio Salernitano (born Tommaso Guardati), a collection of fifty novels – each dedicated to prominent contemporary figures – first published in Naples in 1476. Of this first edition of the Novellino no copy is recorded; in general, all subsequent editions of the Novellino are likewise rare, often preserved in only a handful of copies, a paucity perhaps attributable to the work's inclusion, owing to its lascivious nature (Masuccio is also known as the ‘Boccaccio of Naples'), in the Index of Forbidden Books of 1559. A few of the novels also enjoyed special popularity, and separate editions are known, all issued without indication of the date of printing: the Novella d'un geloso nomato maistro Rogiero Campisciano (around 1522), the Marauiglioso caso nella citta? di Napoli interuenuto, di una rea femina qual dal proprio figliol con inganno si fece carnalmente conoscere (around 1538), and the Nouella di Marioto Senese presented here.

This separate and undated edition of the Nouella di Marioto Senese – originally dedicated in the Novellino to Duke of Amalfi – is recorded in only two Italian institutional libraries – the National Library in Florence, and the Biblioteca Angelo Mai in Bergamo – while the Biblioteca Trivulziana in Milan preserves a slightly different issue, with the text recomposed and the title written with ‘Mariotto' in place of ‘Marioto' (i.e., Nouella di Mariotto Senese).

According to Petrocchi, this rare publication may date to the 1530s, after Melchiorre Sessa's edition of the Novellino printed in Venice in 1531.
The tale narrates, in the Italian vernacular, the unfortunate story of two lovers from warring Sienese families, Mariotto Mignanelli and Ganozza (or Giannozza) Saraceni. Owing to the basic plot elements (the rivalry of the families, the clandestine marriage of the protagonists, the role played by a friar, the apparent death of Ganozza, and a misunderstanding that leads to the tragic death of both lovers) Masuccio's novel is considered one of the main sources of Shakespeare's celebrated tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

The novel is introduced by a woodcut vignette of a woman between two men. The text is set in roman type; curiously, however, the mysterious printer switched to an italic font for the last page.

Gamba, Delle novelle italiane in prosa, 18352, p. 144, no. 94; Passano, Novellieri italiani in prosa, 1864, p. 307; C. Angeleri, Bibliografia delle stampe popolari a carattere profano dei secoli XVI e XVII conservate nella Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze Florence, 1953, n. 276; Masuccio Salernitano, Il Novellino. Con appendice di prosatori napoletani del ‘400, ed. G. Petrocchi, Florence 1957, p. 592; O. H. Moore, “The Origins of the Legend of Romeo and Juliet in Italy”, Speculum 5 (1930), pp. 264-277; Idem, The Legend of Romeo and Juliet, Columbus, OH 1950, pp. 36-42; J. L. Levenson, “Romeo and Juliet before Shakespeare”, Studies in Philology 81 (1984), pp. 325-347; N. Prunster (ed.), Romeo and Juliet before Shakespeare: Four Early Stories of Star-Crossed Love, Toronto 2000; N. Coderey, Il mosaico di Giuletta e Romeo. Da Boccaccio a Bandello, Ravenna 2014, pp. 199-211; Sander 4381.

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