Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Merchant Culture in Fourteenth-Century Venice: The 'Zibaldone Da Canal'

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Merchant Culture in Fourteenth-Century Venice: The 'Zibaldone Da Canal'

Article excerpt

Merchant Culture in Fourteenth-Century Venice: The 'Zibaldone da Canal' trans. John E. Dotson, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 98 (Binghamton, NY: MRTS, 1994). xii + 228 pp. ISBN o-86698-112-8. $25.00.

This useful and fascinating volume translates Alfredo Stussi's edition of the Zibaldone da Canal, published in 1967 under the auspices of the Comitato per la Pubblicazione delle Fonte Relative alla Storia di Venezia; Stussi is said to have read and criticized a draft of this translation (p. xii). This Zibaldone - the word means a miscellany or commonplace book, in this case a compilation of business, educational and cultural lore - is attributed to a member of the illustrious Venetian family of da Canal; it survives in just one manuscript, now at the Beinecke Rare Book Library, Yale. Although the manuscript dates from the late fourteenth century, its mercantile material was probably assembled between 1311 and 13 31 (pp. 9-1 o). John E. Dotson's Introduction helpfully situates the text among its various literary, geographical and historical contexts; his annotations to the text itself offer welcome illumination of difficult, sometimes desperately arcane, matters. Since this Zibaldone is the earliest extensive merchant's manual, it has long been of compelling interest to economic historians. But there is much here to interest literati too. Boccaccio, at the time that this text was first being compiled, was (under the Bardi at Naples) undergoing just the kind of education that this text proposes; and Boccaccio was soon to distinguish himself as an author of Ziba/doni (albeit literary, rather than mercantile, in orientation). …

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