MANUZIO, Paolo Epistolae, et praefationes

Venice, In Academia Veneta [Paolo Manuzio], 1558


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. [12], 148 [i.e. 142]. Predominantly Italic letter, little Roman. Large printer’s device on title, hand-coloured by contemporary hand; title slightly dusty; light, mainly marginal waterstains, with a few wormholes to upper gutter of first gathering, small stain to f. 91. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, contemporary title inked along spine and lower edge; minor light stains and loss to front cover; nearly contemporary inscription ‘Verde Brasca’ (probably the Verdebrasca of Milan) on front endpaper, title and rear pastedown.

First edition of one of the most influential Neo-Latin collections in early modern Europe. Paolo Manuzio (1512-1574) was a prominent humanist of the late Italian Renaissance. The youngest son of Aldus, he was a very influential scholar and publisher in his own right, living up to the family tradition. A master of the epistolary genre with very successful collections both in Latin and vernacular, he was especially engaged, as a scholar, in Latin literature. His commentaries on the works of Cicero and his polished Latin prose won him long-lasting fame throughout Europe. Under his management, the Aldine press flourished once again, after the dark times of the early 1530s. He also acted as the official printer to the Academia Venetiana between 1558 and 1561, while in the following nine years he ran the first papal press in Rome. This collection comprises several letters and prefaces written by Paolo to the Gotha of the political, religious and academic establishment of mid-sixteenth-century Italy. The work kept growing over the following 15 years until it included 12 books. However, some self-censorship took place in order to cope with the Indexes of forbidden books issued by Paul IV in 1559 and the Tridentine Council in 1564, so that a few letters appear here for the first, and only, time in their original form. As Renouard sarcastically glossed, Paolo claimed in the initial dedicatory letter that he decided to publish the present collection because of pressure from his fellow members of the Venetian Academy.

BM STC It., 413; Adams, M 483; Brunet, III, 1383; Graesse, IV, 375; Renouard, 271:9.
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