Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Boccaccio and the Book: Production and Reading in Italy 1340-1520

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Boccaccio and the Book: Production and Reading in Italy 1340-1520

Article excerpt

Rhiannon Daniels, Boccaccio and the Book: Production and Reading in Italy 1340- ij2o, Italian Perspectives 19 (Oxford: Legenda, 2009). xii + 229 pp. ISBN 978-1906540-49-4. £45.00.

The stated aim of this book 'is to find new ways of recovering evidence that more accurately reflect the range of different medieval and Renaissance readers in Italy who had some contact with selected works by Boccaccio, and to establish as far as possible to what uses they put this reading matter' (p. 1). In the introduction Rhiannon Daniels states her dissatisfaction with those studies that restrict themselves to either just manuscripts or just printed editions and sets about taking a more holistic approach to book history. The first chapter looks at questions of authorship and publication in the pre-modern period and highlights the importance of the materiality of texts, taking important cues from the work of Adams, Barker, and of course McKenzie. She then outlines her methodology and seeks to clarify her terminology and definitions, proposing the term 'text-object' to mean a 'text manifested in its material container which acts as a medium for the text, whether manuscript or print' (p. 15). Five core elements are afforded particular attention: support material, script or type, size, layout, and decoration, though these are not evenly treated. The treatment of script, for example, would benefit from considerable further nuance.

Three Boccaccian texts are then discussed in the three following chapters: Teseida, Decameron, and De mulieribus claris. Analysis of the Teseida concentrates on a sample of twenty-six (out of sixty-two extant) manuscripts. This sample, the author assures us, is representative, though readers will surely wonder precisely how. Outlining a taxonomy of manuscript types, she sees the Teseida manuscripts as encompassing both ends of the market and clearly holding an appeal for all sections of literate society. The two early printed editions are examined, those of the Ferrarese Agostino Carnerio and the Neapolitan Francesco del Tuppo, and she quite righdy asserts that they must be seen in their manuscript context, not as isolated, speculative ventures. …

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