SANNAZARO, Jacopo Opera omnia

Venice, in aedibus haer. Aldo I Manuzio & haer. Andrea I Torresano, 1535


8vo. ff. 40, 63 (i), half-title to second part. Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut Aldine device to t-p and verso of last leaf. T-p very slightly dust-soiled, tiny hole to outer blank margin, early ms. ‘G.2.’ at foot, oil splash to lower margin of e6-e8, small flaw to outer blank margin of D3, minimal marginal spotting. A very good, well-margined copy in slightly later vellum, modern book label of Arthur Amory Houghton Jr. to rear pastedown.

Very good, large copy of this enlarged, collected Aldine edition of Jacopo Sannazaro’s Latin works—‘a more complete edition than previous ones’ (Brunet V, 127). Sannazaro (1458-1530) was a Neapolitan author and humanist, a member of the intellectual circles of Giovanni Pontano and Frederick of Aragon, King of Naples, whom he briefly followed in exile to France. Best known for his poem ‘Arcadia’ (c.1489), which became a paragon of pastoral romance in Renaissance Europe, Sannazaro also wrote the Latin compositions included in this enlarged posthumous edition. Inspired by the tradition of sacred poems, ‘De partu virginis’ was originally published in 1526 and gained him the nickname of ‘Christian Virgil’. This Christian epic is devoted to the story of Mary; quite popular at the time, it provides a heroic depiction of the Virgin’s unshakeable virtue in the most distinguished moments of her hagiography. Another short religious poem, called ‘De morte Christi lamentatio’, is included. There follow a short fragmentary composition and the ‘Eclogae Piscatoriae’ in which the traditional shepherds of the Virgilian tradition are substituted by fishermen in the Bay of Naples. The second part of the work features his elegies, many of which addressed to his contemporaries, especially Neapolitan, like the patrician Joannes Sangrius, the intellectual Giovanni Pontano, the official Ludovico Montalto and Neapolitan royalty. The work concludes with epigrams, short compositions on a variety of subjects from funeral commemoration to military expeditions, praise of royal and political figures, and classical deities. An excellent copy of this edition prepared, in Paulus Manutius’s words, ‘to preserve the monuments of Sannazaro’s “ingenium” from the oblivion and death brought about by the passing of time’. The phrase ‘non sine privilegio’ on the t-p reflects copyright restrictions enforced in Venice after 1517. Then a decree was approved restricting privilege to previously unpublished works and labelling as ‘libri comuni’ (patrimony of all booksellers) classical texts and works on law, grammar and liturgy. In 1534, privileges were restricted to ten years and continued to be limited to ‘new’ works, that is ‘works which had not been previously published as a whole’; this caused, as in this case, ‘a shift towards contemporary texts and author-centred works’ (Kostylo, ‘From Gunpowder to Print’, 28-29).

USTC 854667; BM STC It., p. 605; Brunet V, 127; Renouard 114:3; Ahmanson-Murphy 279. J. Kostylo, ‘From Gunpowder to Print: The Common Origins of Copyright and Patent’, in Privilege and Property, ed. R. Deazley et al. (Cambridge, 2010), 21-50.
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