CINI, Desiderio

CINI, Desiderio Desiderio, e speranza fantastichi. Comedia tropologica. Da Desiderio Cini di Pistoia composta

Venice, appresso Sebastiano de Combi, 1607


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. 334 (i.e. 330), (vi), last two blank. A-O12. Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut printer’s device on title, small floriated woodcut initials and head and tail-pieces, engraved armorial bookplates of Earl Grey, Wrest Park on pastedown, and Allardyce Nicoll on fly. Light age yellowing, title slightly dusty, tiny part of lower blank margin cut away. A good copy in C18th quarter vellum over marbled paper boards, a little rubbed and soiled.

Rare first and only early edition of this morality play or, with the denomination that Cini gives it, “Commedia Tropologica”, written in the language of Pistolese, (from the town and region of Pistoia in Tuscany), and also using the language of the favella. It is important, not just as a piece of vernacular theatre, but as evidence of the use of these languages in the C16th. Very little is known about the life of Cini and this play, his only published work, has been almost entirely overlooked. Its dedication by the author to Nicolao Magona da Pisa includes an interesting defense of its language, hoping that it will not be mocked for its use of patois. He also praises his patron for having the courage to support such an unusual work, and hopes it will provoke a discussion about language in the theatre. He also uses his prologue to extol the virtues of Pistolese “per la moltitudine de vocaboli, che esplicano la gravidanza de concetti” and cites both Petrarch and Boccaccio’s use of the vernacular as examples he has followed. Cini considers that other regional languages such as “Bergamasco”, “Venetiano” and “Napolitana” would also be rich sources for future works. As the play is almost entirely dialogue it gives us a rare insight into the the use of a spoken regional dialect in Italy at the turn of the seventeenth century.

From the library of Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey, (1781-1859), Tory politician and statesman. He was made Privy Counsellor in 1834, holding office as the first Lord of the Admiralty till April 1835, and a Knight of the Garter in 1844. He was aide-de-camp to William IV and Queen Victoria. He was the first president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a fellow of the Royal Society, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and served as one of the New Buckingham Palace Commissioners from 1848. Besides remodeling his London home at No. 4 St. James’s Square (now the Naval & Military club) he designed the new Wrest House inspired by French architecture at his Wrest Park estate assisted by James in Clephan.

BM STC It. C17th p. 237. Not in Gamba or Fontanini.
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