BEMBO, Pietro. Gli Asolani.

Venice, in aedibus Aldi., March 1505

Quarto (196 x 118 mm.), 96 unnumbered leaves, 1 leaf with the errata, lacking the last blank leaf; Aldus device on leaf m8 verso. Our copy has the dedication to Lucrezia Borgia dated 1st August 1504 and the errata leaf at the end missing in most of the copies. XIX century red morocco, spine in compartments richly gilt with black morocco lettering piece, gilt edges. One restored tear in the lower white margin of title, overall a very fine copy.First edition of the first vernacular work by Pietro Bembo, introduced by a dedication letter to the famous Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Duchess of Ferrara, which for unknown reasons turns out to have been suppressed in many copies of this edition.Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), one of the major Italian Renaissance humanists and the main theorist of the usage of vernacular in Italian literature (the so called ‘vernacular classicism'), belonged to a most prominent Venetian aristocratic family. After receiving a classical education, he soon turned his attention to scholarly pursuits and, starting from the late 15th century, was closely involved with the Aldine Press, for whom he realized in 1501-1502 two fundamental editions of Petrarch's Canzoniere and Dante's Commedia. Meanwhile, Bembo pursued a career in public life as he continued to venture his own literary productions, such as this book.The Gli Asolani is to be considered the major literary expression of this first phase of Bembo's production. The work consists of a dialogue in three books, interspersed with poems, which takes place in Asolo, at the court of Caterina Cornaro, former Queen of Cyprus and Bembo's cousin. The six protagonists dialogue of the intimate nature of love, expressing varied points of view; in the third book, Bembo looks for a philosophical and religious solution to the problem of love, deeply influenced by Neoplatonism and specifically by Marsilio Ficino's theories.The argument fits perfectly within the context of courtesan literature, which during the 15th and 16th centuries privileged love as primary theme; at the same time, Bembo shows a marked originality with respect to previous and contemporary authors, because he not only chooses to speak of love in prose instead of poetry (taking Boccaccio's Decameron as his model), but also characterizes his poems with a rigorous Petrarchism that anticipates what was to become the literary style of Italian Renaissance poetry.References: Renouard 48; Adams, B-578; Brunet, I 766; Scott, 141-43; Sowell, 15; UCLA, 72; C. Dionisotti, in DBI 8 (1966); AA.VV., In Aedibus Aldi. The Legacy of Aldus Manutius and his Press, 1995, 75-76.



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