Saturday, 22 December 2007

A McGonigle Watch at Appleby's

I recently became interested in the work of the McGonigle brothers, Irish watchmakers. I get e-mail updates, and they recently let us know that they had left a watch into Appleby's in Dublin for viewing. Since I had never seen one in the flesh, I thought I'd go in to have a look. There are two, including a beautiful platinum model. They are just beautiful, incredibly poised in design and with a really dynamic face. They feel really modern actually, and quite edgy. This is all the more remarkable considering that they are so traditional, crafted with painstaking attention to detail. They make, I believe, about four watches a year. Money would be vulgar to talk about considering the kind of watch we're talking about. It's a work of art. That's all. If you're interested I really recommend a visit to see this marvellous watch.

I should also say that the chap who looked after me there, and I did not catch his name, but I should have thought he's an Appleby, was extremely helpful and courteous and spoke with care and in detail about the watches. I greatly enjoyed the visit, and was given good reason to trust them.

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).

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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