Thursday, 6 December 2007

Francesco Petrarca, De insigni obedientia et fide uxoria, ed. Albanese (1998)

This gorgeous little facsimile of Florence, Bibl. Riccardiana, MS 991, prepared by the excellent Gabriella Albanese was published in 1998 by Edizioni dell'Orso (Alessandria); she is also responsible for writing an introduction. It appears to be out of print now, but I shall certainly keep my eyes open for it as I'd love to own a copy. The manuscript is rather unusual in that it comprises just 22 ff of Petrarch's Latin translation of Dec X. 10, the story of Gualtieri and his patient wife Griselda. Very few single volume 'monographs' of the work exist, being much more frequently compiled with other material into a miscellany. Its format is unusual, 18 cm X 12.5 cm, written in a humanist script that is light and spacious.

"L'elegante mise en page del testo, infatti, vergato in scrittura umanistica, a piena pagina, con uno specchio di scrittura arioso, di gusto classico, il formato decisamente moderno e 'petrarchesco' di «libretto da mano» ne fanno un maneggevole libro di lettura, scritto al contempo con eleganza e chiarezza, che ripete da vicino teoria e prassi della riforma del libro voluta e imposta da Petrarca negli ambienti delle più avanzate avanguardie umanistiche" (p. 39).

Perhaps most interesting is its unfinished iconographic programme, with blank spaces at key scenes. Albanese includes an analysis of these empty scenes and a comparison with other illuminated manuscripts with pictorial representations of these very moments in the text. This is a fascinating study and a fascinating manuscript and both are worth looking at carefully.

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