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Rojas, Fernando de (d. 1541).

Celestina tragicocomedia [sic] di Calisto e Melibea nuovamente tradotta de spagnolo in italiano idioma Venice, Bernardino Bindoni, 1543.

€ 9.500
Playing with figures between Spain and Venice. An early translation of La Celestina
Rojas, Fernando de (d. 1541).. Celestina tragicocomedia [sic] di Calisto e Melibea nuovamente tradotta de spagnolo in italiano idioma. Venice, Bernardino Bindoni, 1543.

8° (139x99 mm). Collation: A-P8. cxix, [1] leaves. Complete with fol. P8 blank. Italic and roman type. Large woodcut on title-page; sixteen smaller vignettes in text (one repeat). Later citron morocco, partially sunned, covers with triple gilt-fillet frame. Spine with five raised bands, richly gilt tooled. Gilt edges. A very good copy, bottom of title-page and following leaf slightly stained, small loss to lower outer blank corner of fol. K8, not affecting the text.

Provenance: the antiquarian bookseller Arthur Lauria, first active in Naples, and then in Paris from ca. 1932 to 1968 (small stamp on the front pastedown).

Early Venetian illustrated edition of this masterpiece of Spanish literature, widely known as La Celestina and generally attributed to Fernando de Rojas, presented here in its Italian vernacular translation by the rather mysterious Alfonso Ordón?ez (or Alphonso Hordognez), possibly a member of Pope Julius II's entourage. Ordón?ez's text is of great importance as not only the first translation of La Celestina, but also the earliest surviving example of the tragicomedy in any language. Further, unlike other early versions, it draws on the original 16-act Comedy probably printed in Burgos in 1499 (of which only a single copy exists, and it is incomplete), as well as the later 21- act version, the first to be defined as a tragicomedy (the earliest extant Spanish example of which is the 1507 Zaragoza edition), thus offering precious insight into Rojas's original formulation.
First published in Rome by Eucharius Silber in 1506, Ordón?ez's work established a parallel textual tradition that formed the basis of subsequent modern-language translations and of La Celestina's international renown.
The illustrations included in Bindoni's 1543 edition – which preserves Ordón?ez's original dedication to Gentile Feltria (d. 1529), upon whose request the translation was made – similarly attempts to retrieve a more ‘authentic' Celestina amidst the rapidly proliferating editions. Of the in-text woodcuts, five depict specific events (one repeating) while the other eleven are factotums – individual blocks with characters or landscape features that can be variously assembled to produce, in this case, five-block-wide composite images.
The stage-like nature of such composites, first recorded in an edition of Terence printed in Strasbourg in 1496, is well suited to the theatricality of La Celestina; indeed, the earliest use of factotums in Spain relates to blocks used by Polono and Cromberger, possibly in the lost 1502 Seville edition of La Celestina, which Cromberger also used in his subsequent editions.
Among the most profusely illustrated books of the sixteenth century, La Celestina's rich graphic tradition was already set with the seventeen woodblock engravings included in the 1499 Burgos edition, so it is no surprise that printers were quick to follow Cromberger's more cost-effective model. Especially popular among Spanish printers, factotums thus became the preferred method for illustrating Rojas's best-seller: their use comprises most, if not all, of the illustrations in the vast majority of illustrated editions published in Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century. While stylistic differences obviously emerged, it was the Polono-Cromberger blocks that provided the model for the illustrations included in Juan Batista Pedrezano's Spanish editions printed in Venice in 1523 and 1531, the blocks for which Bindoni re-used in the edition presented here.
This is no small point. Despite the numerous Italian-language editions that followed the first printing of Ordón?ez's translation, it was not until 1519 that an illustrated Italian edition finally appeared. Printed in Venice by Cesare Arrivabene, it sought to economize rather differently: by continuously repeating the same two engravings (seemingly at random) throughout the text. This approach was repeated by Marchiò Sessa, using the same woodblocks, for his Venice edition of 1531. It was later that year that Pedrezano published his factotum-illustrated edition which was evidently more appealing, for the Sabio brothers proceeded to use very close, though coarser imitations of the blocks in their own Italian editions printed in Venice in 1534 and 1541. Restoring Pedrezano's blocks to their original form for Italian readers, Bindoni also rearranged several of the factotum composites to correct errors caused by the high level of interchangeability among certain figures. One more development is also worth mentioning. Though modeled on Cromberger's, in Pedrezano's titular engraving Celestina is shown holding a rosary, thus pointing up her “feigned devotion” (M. Albala? Pelegri?n, “Gestures as a Transnational Language through Woodcuts”, p. 89). This is an instance of religious moralizing that Bindoni would further in his own edition by omitting Pedrezano's final illustration – that of Melibea's suicide. The prudent suppression also entailed an element of foreshadowing, for while La Celestina – rife as it is with references to sexual transgressions and love magic, a sort of popular sorcery – managed to avoid inclusion on the Index for almost a century and a half, Bindoni himself would be banished from Venice in 1551 as a result of a decree promulgated in precisely 1543.

Sander 1910 (1534 edition); Essling 2055; Palau 51194; F. J. Norton, Printing in Spain 1501-1520. With a Note on the Early Editions of the ‘Celestina', Cambridge 1966, pp. 141-156; C. Griffin, The Combergers of Seville, Oxford 1988, p. 198; “Hacia el origen de la Tragicomedia”, J. C. Conde (ed.), Actas del Simposio Internacional 1502-2002: Five Hundred Years of Fernando de Rojas' Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, New York 2007, pp. 115-45; K. V. Kish, “‘Celestina' as Chameleon: The Early Translations”, Celestinesca, 33 (2009), pp. 87-100; D. Paolini, “Madonna Gentile Feltria de Campofregoso, Alphonso Hordognez y la traduccion Italiana de La Celestina”, EHumanista, 19 (2011), pp. 260-295; M. Albala? Pelegri?n, “Gestures as a Transnational Language through Woodcuts: Celestina's Title Pages”, Celestinesca, 39 (2015), pp. 79-112; E. Ferna?ndez – J. Snow, eds., A Companion to Celestina, Leiden 2017; Celestina Visual, celestinavisual.org.

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