Della Casa Giovanni (1503-1556). Trattato di meser Giovanni Della Casa...

Della Casa Giovanni (1503-1556). Trattato di meser Giovanni Della Casa...

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Della Casa Giovanni (1503-1556).

Trattato di meser Giovanni Della Casa, nel quale sotto la persona d’un vecchio idiota ammaestrante un suo giovanetto si ragiona de modi, che si debbono o tenere, o schifare nella comune conversatione, cognominato Galatheo.

Milan, Valerio Meda and Brothers for Giovanni Antonio degli Antoni, 1559.

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The first book entirely devoted to good manners

Della Casa Giovanni (1503-1556).

Trattato di meser Giovanni Della Casa, nel quale sotto la persona d’un vecchio idiota ammaestrante un suo giovanetto si ragiona de modi, che si debbono o tenere, o schifare nella comune conversatione, cognominato Galatheo. Milan, Valerio Meda and Brothers for Giovanni Antonio degli Antoni, 1559.

8° (162x96 mm). Collation: A-E8, F4. 44 leaves. Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer’s device on the title-page and at end. Woodcut decorated initials. Twentieth-century light brown leather, richly gilt tooled. Covers within concentric frames and one lozenge, at centre large fleuron. Spine with five raised bands, title in gilt lettering. Gilt edges. A fine copy.

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The first separate edition of the Galateo (The Book of Manners) by the celebrated Florentine prelate and diplomat Giovanni Della Casa. The Galateo is one of the most famous and influential courtesy books of the sixteenth century, “et qui passa longtemps pour le livre en prose italienne le mieux écrit après le Decameron de Boccace” (J. Balsamo, De Dante à Chiabrera, p. 211).

The work was written by Della Casa between 1551 and 1555, in the fictional literary framework of lessons given by an old illiterate man to a young disciple, perhaps the author’s nephew Annibale Ruccelai. The Galateo is named after the Bishop of Sessa (near Naples) Galeazzo Florimonte – in Latin Galatheus – with whom the author had long conversations in 1550 on such topics and who first suggested to him that he should write a courtesy book.

The Galateo first appeared in print in 1558 in the Venetian collection of Della Casa’s Rime et Prose, posthumously edited from his manuscripts by his former secretary Erasmo Gemini de Cesi and dedicated to Giacomo Querini. Owing to its elegant colloquial style and the clarity with which the rules of behaviour are enumerated, the work was enthusiastically received by a wide audience, and printed almost immediately in this separate edition. Numerous editions followed, and already in the sixteenth century the Galateo was translated into various European languages, thus establishing a successful literary genre.

The early editions contain the first version of the text. Della Casa worked on a revision of it which was only published by Cugnoni in Rome in 1889.

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Adams, C-813; STC Italian, p. 152; A. Santosuosso, The Bibliography of Giovanni della Casa, Florence 1979, 20; J. Balsamo, De Dante à Chiabrera. Poètes italiens de la Renaissance dans la Bibliothèque de la Fondation Barbier-Mueller, Genève 2007, ii, 89.

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