Friday, 7 December 2007

Another wot got away

I thought I nearly had it. A tad over-priced, but I was willing. Postage cost a disgrace, but that's the way of it. And then a message, the bookseller regrets that this book is not in place: it may have been sold to a customer who walked in off the street, or the seller's database has not been updated. So that's that. I know it will come up again; it'll be in the window of a charity shop, or I'll find it online again and I'll be that person who walked in of the street and gets it in time. Patience with books leads to good collections.

It was Guglielmo Gorni's edition of the Vita nova for the 'Nuova Raccolta di classici italiani annotati', published by Einaudi, in 1996 (ISBN: 8806132253). I must admit I find myself convinced by his renumbering of the chapters. Numerology is always a tricky one to argue, because it's so flexible and can be made to perform incredible acrobatics for you that just work somehow, but the patterns around the number 9 are very stimulating and compelling. See too his article ''Paragrafi' e titolo della «Vita Nova»', Studi di filologia italiana, 53 (1995), 203-222 for an account. There's something very economical about his argument and his critique of Barbi's assertion that the divisions are inconsistent in the extant manuscripts is powerful. (Cf. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta, 'From Manuscript to Print: The Case of Dante's Vita Nuova', in Dante Now: Current Trends in Dante Studies, ed. by Theodore J. Cachey, William and Katherine Devers Series in Dante Studies, 1 [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995], pp. 83-114, for another view, of considerably more shaky philological foundation).

But I cannot complain. Lately I've been finding some lovely things here and there. Kenelm Foster's The Two Dantes (London, 1977), in lovely condition, and a very good pb of his Petrarch (Edinburgh, 1984). The former I found before a visit to Cambridge last week. I took it as a good omen for my journey, and it was indeed a good omen. While in Cambridge I found a lovely copy of Gordon's The Double Sorrow of Troilus (Oxford, 1970), and Barron's Trawthe and Treason: The Sin of Gawain Reconsidered (Manchester, 1980).

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