ONE OF 16C.-ITALY BEST KNOWN PLAYS
Venice, Libraria della Speranza, 1601.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. 128. Italic letter. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, title within small woodcut ornament, floriated woodcut initials, woodcut head and tailpieces, “Ronald Bayne 1896” manuscript on fly, bookplate of Allardyce Nicoll on pastedown. Pp. 64, 65, and verso of last dusty, occasional marginal dust soiling in places. A good copy in C18th marbled paper over boards, spine worn, boards slightly soiled.
Rare first and only early edition of this bawdy comedy by the prolific playwright Giovanni Loredano (not to be confused with his more famous namesake, the founder of the Accademica degli Incogniti), published eleven years after his death by his son, Sebastiano who adapted and published it under his father’s name. Loredano’s work is now almost forgotten despite the fact that he was one of the more interesting late C16th Italian playwrights. His ‘La Malandrina’ is considered one of the most original comedies of the entire century, with an exotic and unusual setting, and an effective use of brutal realism in the depiction of deception and greed.
Only two of his plays were published in his lifetime, ‘La Malandrina,’ and ‘I Vani amori,’ and five more in the decade after his death which underlines his continued contemporary popularity. Giorgio Padoan, in his ‘L’Avventura della Commedia Rinascimentale,’ states that he was the author of a further eleven plays, the manuscripts of which were unfortunately lost in a shipwreck (or fortunately, in Padoan’s words). His later works, and especially this one, are ribald, picaresque and often violent, using crude and direct language, suggesting that Loredano’s son was more than just their publisher.
His work is revelatory of the type of popular entertainment produced in Venice in the late C16. “L’unico vero interesse di queste commedie può essere ritrovato in possibili indiretti rapporti con le recite dell`Arte, la cui conoscenza sembra non senza influsso sul Loredan. Notevole è nei ‘Vani amori’ (a. IV sc. 9) un cenno a quegli attori professionisti: la cui attività era stata censurata in Venezia dall’editto del 1581”. Giorgio Padoan. This work is particularly rare: we have only located two copies in libraries outside Italy.
Ronald Bayne (1859–1922), Vicar of Holy Trinity, Greenwich, wrote for the Dictionary of National Biography; his Articles are signed “R. B.” He had a considerable reputation as a scholar, although he published little apart from a new edition of Book V. of Hooker’s “Ecclesiastical Polity,” (1902).
BM STC C17th It. Vol. 1 p.500. Fontanini I 408. Not in Gamba.