Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dreams and books

Readers may have noticed that another item has been removed from the sidebar section listing the ‘Books I Dream of Owning’. That is Foster and Boyde’s Dante’s Lyric Poetry (Clarendon Press, 1967). I’d been slightly despairing of finding it, and had encountered some friends and colleagues who had their own copies, found for a song here and there, or given as gifts by retiring colleagues and the like (you know who you are). I’d received a note about a copy in an Italian bookshop, no dustjacket, with some pencil marks, for a whopping €800. Yes, you read that right, eight-hundred euro. That rather put me off, and had me worried about other sellers getting ideas. 

Fortunately, a very reasonable bookseller in Montana (imagine) put his copy up for a what we’ll call a normal price, recognizing that it had no dustjacket, that there was a small water stain, etc. By no means a mint copy. However, in very good nick. I’m so happy to have this. The power and lucid brilliance of the commentary is wondrous, and as a translation it really has not dated. I’m always puzzled that OUP have never reprinted it.

The other addition to the crazy man library is the ‘edizione diplomatico-interpretativa’ of MS Hamilton 90 (Boccaccio’s autograph of the Decameron), edited by Charles S. Singleton and published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1974. It’s quite an interesting volume and I’d been on the lookout for it for a while, and you do indeed see copies appearing, and sometimes not for crazy prices. But when I saw this one online for £2.50, I thought: this is a kind of craziness I can really get behind. In lovely condition, ex-library, usual stamps (as they say), but a good deal more than adequate as a study copy. I have already cited it in a footnote, so it has now earned its keep on the shelf. I think I’d rather like to have Singleton’s 1955 Laterza edition of the Decameron, and, again, you do see copies around, but I’ve been put off by them being ever so slightly pricy, and of course the enormous, exaggerated postage costs from Italy.

Now, back to (my) Boccaccio.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Boccaccio Baby!

It is possible that some of you may not have heard that, throughout this very year, the anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio is being celebrated in Bacchanalian excess all over Europe. An enormous number of conferences have been organized, the proceedings of which will emerge over the next couple of years and will keep us going for some good while to come. It’s all very exciting, to be perfectly honest. I have saddled up a couple of times myself, giving a paper in Bologna in November of last year, on the Mannelli glosses to the Decameron, another paper in Binghamton, NY, on the catchwords in the Berlin autograph of the Decameron, and then another last week, which was great fun, on Boccaccio and Petrarch in the Rome conference Boccaccio in Europa. These have been very stimulating meetings, with a lot of fresh and interesting research. Of particular interest in Binghamton, for example, was the work presented by Marco Cursi on the evolution of Boccaccio’s handwriting and punctuation, as well as the fascinating head at the end of the Toledano autograph of the Comedìa. I’ll be heading to Manchester, for Locating Boccaccio in 2013, next month, to give a paper again on Mannelli. And then, hopefully, no-one will have to listen to me for at least a while more. But the anniversary seems to have concentrated the mind for Boccaccian studies, and there is such a lot of work being done and in the process of coming out. The ‘Events’ page on the website of the Casa del Boccaccio is like a veritable trending Twitter feed. There is a website dedicated to listing the conferences and exhibitions, here (the English version of which is not always updated as cleanly as it could be), while the Trenitalia website hosts a PDF with a list of everything that’s happening, presumably to help the conductors deal with the hoards of people moving around the peninsula. I know what you’re thinking: it’s like the Jubilee in 1300 all over again! And so it should be.

Apart from the conferences already mentioned above, there has been a very interesting gathering in Ferrara in November 2013 entitled Dentro l’officina di Boccaccio, with an excellent account provided by one of its participants, Angelo Eugenio Mecca on his blog. The proceedings are due to appear at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2014 with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Collana “Studi e Testi”. Later in the year, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana will host an exhibition of autograph manuscripts, which has occasioned a range of very important and exciting research by the best palaeographers and philologists around. There will also be a conference held between Florence and Certaldo, which will be, I suspect, ‘the big one’. 


As if this wasn’t enough, a brand new edition of the Decameron has been published, by Rizzoli in the BUR Classici series, with a newly edited text, prepared by Maurizio Fiorilla, an introduction and apparatus of notes by Amedeo Quondam, and introductions to each giornata by Giancarlo Alfano. And then there will be, with Cambridge University Press, Martin Eisner’s book Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular.

So this is a tremendously exciting year to be working on Boccaccio. Let’s hope we can all do him justice.


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