Friday, 23 July 2010

Books in Bologna - and elsewhere

My trip to Italy for the NCS Congress in Siena has also resulted in the happy acquisition of a small but select number of books for my delectation and pleasure. This was a combination of picking up books I already knew were in certain shops and picking up some other things unexpectedly. In the former category was Giuseppe Corsi's anthology Rimatori del Trecento (UTET, 1969), an excellent selection of poetry with a hugely detailed critical apparatus. I'd been using the library copy and was using it enough to justify owning it. When I went to Libreria Belli in Bologna to pick it up I happened quite by happy accident upon the Romano and Tenenti edition of Alberti's I libri della famiglia, first published by Einaudi in their NUE series in 1969. This edition has, however, been revised by Francesco Furlan, in 1994, with a text that takes account of new manuscript evidence. It was not cheap but then again, this hardly ever appears second hand (and it is now out of print, like so many other volumes in this series). I'm very happy to own this fascinating work and will be using it more often, both for teaching and research.

I was also kindly gifted some books which I'm delighted to have. Piero Boitani's Letteratura europea e Medioevo volgare (Il Mulino, 2007); Prima lezione di letteratura (Laterza, 2007); and Sulle orme di Ulisse, rev & exp edn (Il Mulino, 2007 [1998]). Taken together these represent a significant part of the research interests of this fine medieval scholar and will be a mine of future reading and study.

At the NCS bookstand, there was a representative of Einaudi and, taking advantage of a conference discount, I decided to procure a copy of Chiara Frugoni, L'affare migliore di Enrico: Giotto e la cappella Scrovegni (Einaudi, 2008), and Maria Luisa Meneghetti, Il pubblico dei trovatori: la ricezione della poesia cortese fino al XIV secolo (Einaudi, 1992). This last I'd been long on the lookout for and was delighted to pick up, but the former got me very excited. It is a very substantial tome by a very famous historian. Then, while in Bologna, I was then able to pick up a copy of Giuseppe Basile (ed), Giotto: gli affreschi della Cappella degli Scrovegni a Padova (Skira, 2002), at Mel Bookstore. I read one alongside the other.

Frugoni's book is very interesting and very good. It is often much more the work of a historian than art historian, in the sense that her readings of the paintings are often somewhat straightforward. They are certainly always very plugged in to the source texts, and the volume includes an edition and translation of Enrico Scrovegni's will which will prove invaluable to contextualizing his much discussed motivations in building and commissioning the frescoes. But there was often room for a bit more verve in her interpretations. She is prompt in her disagreement with the work of other scholars (such as Laura Jacobus, Andrew Ladis, Anne Derbes and Mark Sandona) though does not explain the nature of these disagreements. For example, she takes issue with Jacobus's thesis of multiple entrances to the chapel, something Jacobus elaborates upon quite a bit in her exploration of different scenes being 'choreographed' for different audiences. I'd like to know why Frugoni disagrees. For all that, this is an engaging and informed study of the Scrovegni chapel and is well worth reading.


Bo said...

You are a bugger for books. I no I can speak, but really! ;)

Bo said...



Miglior acque said...

Well, I should probably say 'no' more often than 'know', and I'd be less of a bugger for the books! But I'm delighted to have them and to be reading them now.


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