Saturday, 7 June 2008

MS Chig. L. V. 176

Book buying has been proceeding apace over the last month or so. Was very lucky to pick up Dobson's Origins of the Ancrene Wisse and his edition of MS Cotton Cleopatra C. vi; paid too much for a pb of Spearing's Medieval Dream-Poetry (CUP, 1976), but it is very hard to find. And I keep finding nice things in Oxfam these days on Chaucer, such as Fisher's The Importance of Chaucer, Rowe's Through Nature to Eternity, and also a lovely little paperback of Ruggiers' translation of Barbi's Life of Dante.

What I am particularly pleased with, however, is the last two acquisitions. The first is Oskar Hecker's Boccaccio-Funde, and important early (1902) treatment of Boccaccio's manuscripts and the so-called parva libreria. It was a great price too, obviously someone did not love it. Much work has been done since, of course, and there are many points at which this study has been superseded. But it is surprising how often it is necessary to return to it. The second purchase was the surprise find: Il codice Chigiano L. V. 176 autografo di Giovanni Boccaccio, intro. Domenico de Robertis, Codices e Vaticanis Selecti, 37 (Rome; Florence: Alinari, 1975). Now I have seen this around, but usually for a large number of Euros. This required only forty-five of them, and it is in super condition.

This manuscript is very important. It contains: Boccaccio's Vita di Dante;* Dante's Vita nova; Cavalcanti's Donna me prega with Dino del Garbo's commentary; Boccaccio's Ytalie iam certus honos; fifteen of Dante's lyric poems; Petrarch's Canzoniere (the so-called 'forma Chigi'). De Robertis explains rather lucidly, in his introduction, that this manuscript is almost certainly to be linked with another in the Chigiano library, MS L. VI. 213. This manuscript contains Boccaccio's Breve raccoglimento of the Commedia and a copy of the Commedia itself. As de Robertis says of all of this: 'L'integrazione di Dante con Petrarca è dunque la vera novità della silloge boccaccesca' (p. 28). Much is not known about how or indeed why the manuscript was taken apart and rebound, but it might well have been Boccaccio himself. The Cavalcanti with del Garbo commentary looks like it belongs, chronologically, to a slightly different period in the history of the manuscript, and it has been suggested that it was a late addition by Boccaccio (this part is, too, in Boccaccio's hand). The Cavalcanti section occupies a part of the manuscript that has been thought to have originally comprised the Commedia. A recent and very interesting treatment of this manuscript is to be found in Martin George Eisner, 'Boccaccio Between Dante and Petrarch: The Chigiano Codex, Terza Rima Trilogy, and the Shaping of Italian Literary History' (unpublished PhD thesis, Columbia University, 2005), esp. chapter two. I very much hope this study is published since it deserves a wider audience.

*The image is a manuscript now in the Biblioteca Provinciale di Foggia, with the following online catalogue entry:


Cart.; mm. sec. XV (1475); mm. 145 x 220; ce. 29, ciascuna di 26 linee; numer. originale; scrittura umanistica; iniziali in rosso ed azzurro; ril. recente; dorso in pelle, con lettere e fregi in oro e n. di collocazione 139.

Prov.: Nicola Zingarelli, 1936.

A c. 29: «Qui finisce della origine vita et costumi et studii di dante aldighieri poeta clarissimo et delle opere composte dallui fatta da giovanni bocchacci addi XXIII di luglio ore XV MCCCCLXXV» sul verso del foglio di guardia anteriore note autografe a matita di Nicola Zingarelli: «Ms with text different from the first printed edition» e «Da questo ms. deve provenire direttamente il Laurenziano PI. LXV, n. 41, che ha lo stesso n. d'ordine che qui si vede da c. 16; invece il Magl. II, IV, 20, che è strettamente affine ad essi, non può derivare dal Laurenziano, come si afferma da Macrì Leone e da Rostagno, nè dal presente; questo ms. è il più antico della famiglia, come dimostra la grafia. N. Z.»


Jason Fisher said...

Was very lucky to pick up Dobson’s Origins of the Ancrene Wisse [...]

If I remember correctly, didn’t he dedicate the book to J.R.R. Tolkien?

Miglior acque said...

Thanks for posting Jason, & for reading. Yes, The Origins of Ancrene Wisse is dedicated to Tolkien, though In Memoriam.


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