TASSO, Torquato.


TASSO, Torquato. Rime.

Venice, [Aldus Manutius the Younger], 1581.


FIRST COLLECTED EDITION. 8vo. 6 parts in 1, separate half-titles and pagination, pp. [24], 160; [8], 74; [4], 9, [1]; [2], 27, [1]; [2], 4, [4]; [2], 17, [5]. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Aldine device with armorial border to title, decorated initials and ornaments. A little light age yellowing, upper margin cut a bit close, the odd ink or thumb mark. A very good copy in very fine calf mosaiqué c.1900, by J.E. Reymond, gilt dentelles to outer border, inner with single gilt ruled interlacing ribbons, with black morocco onlays, small gilt-stamped fleurons to corners, central panel with large interlacing leaves and gilt fleurons with pointillé core surrounded by black morocco onlays, raised bands, two compartments gilt-lettered, four with small gilt-stamped fleuron and pointillé cornerpieces within onlaid black morocco frame, a.e.g., silk bookmark, doublure of gilt decorated paper. Early autograph ‘D Duval’ to title (faded), approx. 10-line inscriptions (lines Aminta) in a C17 hand at blank foot of two ll.

The rare Aldine first collected edition of the first part of Torquato Tasso’s prose and verse. Renouard wrote ‘I do not know this first part of 1581 in 8vo’, and ‘considering Aldus’s preface signed 13 April 1581, it is possible that an edition from that year may exist, which still hasn’t passed through my hands’ (1803 ed., p.401). A decade later, he wrote again: ‘I have never seen a copy of this Aldine edition […] in 8vo’ (1812 ed., p.38). His library sale catalogue of 1828 finally featured a copy (lot 564). This 8vo edition is probably so rare because Aldus discontinued the 8vo format for Tasso’s complete works, quickly reissuing Part I in 12mo, together with the new Part II, in 1582 (Brunet).

1581 was an important year for the Neapolitan poet Tasso (1544-95), who had been at service of the Duke of Ferrara since 1565, but locked in the Hospital of St Anna since 1579, for behaviour allegedly brought about by madness. In that year, his epic poem ‘Gerusalemme liberata’ – a fictionalized account of the deliverance of Jerusalem – and the first part of his collection of poetry and prose were first published, the second following in 1582. The present edition opens with Tasso’s occasional verse. There follows ‘Aminta’, a pastoral play originally staged on an island of the Po in 1573, and composed as a divertissement for the Court of Ferrara. Set at the time of Alexander the Great, it tells the story of the shepherd Aminta’s unrequited love for a nymph, with a dénouement, à la Pyramus and Thysbe, with Aminta discovering her blood-stained veil and mistakenly believing she may be dead. The C17 annotator of this copy added a few lines from the ‘Chorus’ in ‘Aminta’ not present in this edition. ‘Conclusioni Amorose’ gathers 50 aphorisms on love to be defended publicly and jocularly by the members of a learned academy. ‘Romeo, overo Del Giuoco’ is a prose dialogue on games, set at the Court of Ferrara. It discusses the role of fortune (e.g., dice) and skill (e.g., chess), the goal of games, and their public or private setting. The Annibale Romei who inspired the title was a courtier and chess enthusiast. Written in 1571 and previously printed in Mantova, ‘Lettera’ compares Italy and France from the point of view of politics, character, culture and so on – a work inspired by Tasso’s visit to Paris in 1570. The two final Letters were addressed to the Duke of Urbino, mentioning his ‘madness’ and requesting continuing patronage, and to Guido and Ercole Coccapani, discussing a son’s love for his father.

EDIT16 CNCE 27611; Renouard 401:8; Ahmanson-Murphy 930; BM STC It., p.659; Adams T250; Brunet V, 663-4: ‘Très rare’.
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