Description

    Giovanni Boccaccio Il Decamerone. (Venice: Augustus Zani de Porta, 1518), tabula [aaii], 114 leaves (last 10 leaves missing), two columns, 62 lines, headlines and woodcut initial directors, 87 woodcuts in text, bound in full vellum, 4to (8.25" x 11.75"). This is a beguiling copy of Boccaccio's Il Decamerone in that it bears some old trickery vis-รก-vis the addition of a spurious hand-drawn colophon and a counterfeit 1492 publication date on the last leaf present. This copy is also interesting in the fact that it includes numerous typographical errors, e.g., leaf XXI is mis-numbered XXII, leaf LXX is mis-numbered LXXI, leaf LXXI is mis-numbered LXXII, leaf LXIX is mis-numbered LXXIX, leaf LXX is mis-numbered LXXI, leaf LXXI is mis-numbered LXXII, leaf LXXXIV is mis-numbered LXXXIX and several other similar such occurrences. This is proof positive that the system of Roman numerals was as confusing in the 16th century as it remains today. Though these printing mistakes exist, the pagination is consistent with the flow of text. As mentioned, this edition lacks the last 10 leaves. The overall condition of the volume is very good with the internal contents tight and virtually no age toning to the pages. The covers are shelf worn and there is loss to the vellum at the extremities of the boards. There is some minor underlining in red pencil. The entire volume comes in a beautiful custom-made slipcase of red morocco with five raised bands on the spine and gilt titles and decoration.
    The Decameron is a collection of 100 novellas by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, probably begun in 1350 and finished in 1353. It is a medieval allegorical work best known for its bawdy tales of love, appearing in all its possibilities from the erotic to the tragic. In fact, the woodcuts contained in this volume depict not only these "racy" scenes but also depictions of unspeakable brutality. Other topics such as wit and witticism, practical jokes and worldly initiation also form part of the mosaic. Beyond its entertainment and literary popularity, it remains an important historical document of life in the fourteenth century. This volume represents an early edition of this important work.


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    April, 2007
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