The Englishman's Italian Books, 1550-1700

The Englishman's Italian Books, 1550-1700

John L. Lievsay

120 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512803808 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

In this learned and delightful book, John L. Lievsay shows how energetic English printers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries helped to bring the language and literature of Italy into England. His description of how these men, who were not usually troubled by modesty and sometimes not by honesty, capitalized on and helped to create the Englishman's appetite for things Italian will be welcomed by scholars; his analysis of the contents of libraries and catalogues and his commentary on the books themselves will be relished by those who enjoy the scholarship and the gossip behind the collecting and printing of books.

In his first essay, "English Printers, Italian Texts," the author identifies the printers and the variety of Italian authors. Torriano's proverbs and Florio's language manuals met a receptive audience. John Wolfe published Pietro Aretino under false imprint, inventing fictional places of publication, and his printings of Machiavelli, suppressed in Italy and not generally available in translation, were highly successful. John Bill, King's Printer, even published an Italian translation of Bacon's Essay.

Lievsay then turns to the Italian titles found in library collections of the time, among them Thomas James's catalogs of the Bodleian Library, the bookseller Robert Martin's lists, and the libraries of eminent Englishmen, including those of John Locke and Sir Edward Coke. Lord Herbert's library held a book by "Partenio Etiro," an anagram for Aretino. The work of Tomaso Garzoni has been neglected, but Lievsay revives it in the third essay with descriptions of Garzoni's immensely popular Piazza and Theatro; and quotations from his Mirabile cornutopia—a mock letter of consolation to cuckolds—are evidence of the high spirit of this learned and bizarre man.

The essays are based on lectures given at the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 1969 for the A. S. W. Rosenbach Fellowship in Bibliography.

John L. Lievsay was Professor of English and director of graduate studies in English at Duke University.

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