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I Lucidi comedia (with) Trinutia Comedia.

Venice, Giovanni Griffio and Pietro Boselli, 1552.


12mo. Two works in one volume. ff. 41 (i) + 40 (ii), last blank. Italic letter. Charming woodcut printer’s device of a knight riding a bull on titles and on verso of last in both volumes, elegant historiated initials, typographical ornaments. ‘Francesco Mainarri Ferrarese 1765’ manuscript on title page, ‘Mutius’ manuscript in early hand in lower border of all four printer’s devices, ‘A Gio Antonio Balii (?) di Lugo’ on fly, ‘Guilio Magnani’ on blank recto of last. A little light browning in places. Very good copies in mid 17C Italian speckled calf, spine with raised bands ruled in compartments with large fleur de lys gilt, tan morocco label gilt edges speckled blue.

Excellent editions of the only two comedies written by the lawyer, poet, playwright, and monk of the Vallambrosian order, Firenzuola. He studied law in Siena at the turn of the sixteenth century and later wrote with unconcealed bitterness about the years he spent “with great effort and without any pleasure [pursuing the study of] the ill-served laws of the most noble and lively city of Siena”. He seems to have spent most of his University years in the company of like minded students particularly Pietro Aretino to whom he is most indebted in his literary career. Aretino later reminisced fondly about their misspent youth.

Whilst in Rome, in the service of his order, Firenzuola moved in the literary circle that included Pietro Aretino, Frasceso Molza, Paolo Giovio, and the future archbishop Giovanni Casa. He wrote an amusing satirical treaty on orthography in which he argued, in a comic vein, against the proposed introduction into Italian of several Greek letters, a work that was much appreciated by Pope Clement VII and Bembo, and lead a short lived literary fame. His subsequent works met with a lukewarm response in Rome. In 1538, in Prato, he began to write again after a pause of nearly twenty years. His dialogue “On the Beauty of Women” and these two comedies are the fruit of this period.

He died in obscurity but his works were posthumously successful, underwent several editions with critical attention and were translated into French. His two comedies are written in contemporary Tuscan vernacular and are typical of his best work. In prose, their structure, plot and language are fully entrenched in the genre of sixteenth-century Italian erudite theatre. The first play takes its plot and many of its lines and witticisms from Plautus’ Menaechmi. The second borrows its novelistic structure from Cardinal Bibbiena’s play Calandria. Both were performed in Prato at Carnival. An attractive copy of these elegantly printed works.

BM STC It. C16. p. 253-4 Fontanini p. 389 – 390. Not in Gamba.