AUGUSTINE, SAINT Sermoni ali eremiti del diuo Aurelio Augustino Ipponense a salute non solum de litterati ma etiam de vulgari, nouamente vulgarizati

Venice, nelle case di Alessandro Paganino di Pagnini, 1515


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. 131 unnumbered leaves. 2A4, A-P8, Q7. Lacking last blank. Roman letter, double column. Charming white on black floriated criblé initials, early ms. ex-libris “questo libro fie de Frate ant. dosema alia hermita de santo girinimo” at head of title, another at foot “Cog’is Eremit. S.ti Romualdi Camald. Ord. sub no. 390”, ms. running titles in early hand in places. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal thumb mark or spot, tiny single worm hole to blank outer margin of first few leaves, H1 with tear, expertly restored in outer blank margin, just affecting a few letters in upper corner. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum wrappers.

Beautifully printed first edition of this Italian translation, newly made for the remarkable printer Alessandro Paganino, of the ‘Sermones ad fratres de heremo’ attributed to St. Augustine. Paganino’s most interesting letter to the reader explains and justifies this translation of the sermons of St. Augustine, in terms of spreading the words of the great author to the largest possible audience, especially those who might not have access to his teachings other than in the vernacular.

These sermons cover topics as varied as where and how to search for Christ, the obedience of priests, a homily against slander and backbiting, the power and qualities of mercy and piety, the characteristics of the eremitical life, why pride is to be detested and humility commended, and the need for fortitude in the face of hardship. “Although the sermons of St. Augustine.. have never enjoyed the popularity of many of his longer works, it is from the reading of these sermons that one obtains the best portrayal of the brilliant and profoundly spiritual Augustine… Here one finds Augustine expounding the Christian Creed, exposing the fallacies of the various heresies and schisms, explaining the difficult passages of the scriptures, resolving the doubts of his listeners – and all in a language that could be understood by his parishioners, by the ordinary layman.” J. Quasten.

The early owners of this copy, appropriately, were hermits. Paganino was a most interesting and innovative printer who saw Aldus Manutius as his inspiration. He was the first printer of the Qur’an, printed entirely in Arabic for export. “Even more interesting [of the followers of Aldus] was .. printer-publisher Alessandro Paganino of Toscolano, whose admiration for Aldus became a strong stimulus to achieve something new in the field of typography. … Pagnini’s laborious experimentation resulted in an archaic imprint that influenced not only the design of type but the entire graphic composition of the page. Indeed it was Paganini who had recognized Aldus’s commitment to innovation as an example worthy of being followed.”- Luigi Balsamo

“One other name – that of Alessandro Paganino – calls for special notice, on account of his peculiar upright italic type. Paganino set up his press first of all at Toscolano, on the Lake of Garda, but subsequently removed to Venice, and printed there down to the year 1531.” H Brown, ‘The Venetian printing press’. A beautifully printed work.

Adams A 2220. Not in BM STC It. C16th.
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