Modell of Wit, Mirth, Eloquence and Conversation (Decameron)


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Modell of Wit, Mirth, Eloquence and Conversation (Decameron)


BOCCACCIO, Giovanni. The Modell of Wit, Mirth, Eloquence and Conversation. Framed in Ten Dayes, of an Hundred Curious Pieces… BOUND WITH: The Decameron. London: Isaac Jaggard, 1625, 1620. Quarto, contemporary full brown calf rebacked with original spine laid down. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

First complete translation into English of Boccaccio’s sparkling portrait of love, lust and exuberant life, even in the face of death—the second edition of Volume I and the first of Volume II, as virtually always. Illustrated with an elaborate woodcut title page in each volume as well as numerous in-text woodcuts, decorated initials and ornamental head- and tailpieces throughout.

“Could there be stories without a moral, of human adventure and misadventure? The horrors of the plague provided Boccaccio with the incentive and the opportunity? Boccaccio creates a human panorama of love, courage, cowardice, wit, wisdom, deceit and folly? If he does not teach the art of living virtuously, he does the ‘art of living well” (Boorstin, 266-70). Boccaccio composed his masterpiece sometime between 1348 and 1352. “One of the really great books of the world, the model upon which is based the art of short-story writing” (Rosenbach 28:46). “This is the first complete translation of the Decameron into English. The woodcut vignettes which form the title are interspersed throughout the two volumes, one being given to each separate novel. A second edition of the first volume was issued in 1625 [here present]. The name of the translator is unknown” (Wither to Prior 250), although some authorities suggest John Florio, who prepared an important Italian-English dictionary in 1598 and who tutored Queen Anne in Italian. “No complimentary edition of the second volume was published, possibly because, when the present was called for, Jaggard was still able to supply copies of the first edition” (Pforzheimer 72). Jaggard is also remembered as joint publisher and printer of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Boccaccio’s influence on Shakespeare is most evident in “Troilus and Cressida;” Chaucer, Swift and Keats are among the many other writers who show his influence. This is the first edition (1620) of Volume II (The Decameron) and the second edition (1625) of Volume I, as is usual. Without initial blank in first volume and final blank in second volume. Two preliminary leaves in the second volume (the dedicatory epistle to Sir Phillip Herbert and “To the Reader”) bound in between the eighth and ninth leaves of the Table. STC 3173, 3172. Pforzheimer 72, 71. Lowndes, 224. See CBEL I:341; OCEL I:89; Quaritch 3563. Faint armorial inkstamp to front pastedown, old ink inscriptions to rear endpapers, occasional old marginalia.

Mild marginal dampstaining to first several gatherings. Minor loss to extreme fore-edge of leaves P1-S1. Minor marginal loss to bottom corner of [2B5], not affecting text. Marginal wormholing toward the gutter of leaves 2M4-[2T3] in second volume. Contemporary calf quite handsome. A desirable copy in excellent condition.

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