Italy represents a unusual case of single-handed, one-man bridge building by Conor Fahy, though traditional erudition and book-lore provided a robust foundation, both in the country’s library tradition and in the journal La Bibliofilìa, from 1983 directed by Luigi Balsamo. As professor of Italian at the University of London, Fahy was extremely well placed to draw the attention of native scholars to the lessons offered by analytical and textual bibliography, and succeeded in finding a receptive audience. He is best known for the two following volumes:

  • Saggi di bibliografia testuale (Padova, Antenore, 1988). Brings together thirteen essays, two of them published here for the first time. Of particular importance in this context are the opening four: ‘Sguardo da un altro pianeta: bibliografia testuale ed edizione dei testi italiani del XVI secolo’, pp. 1-32, originally published as ‘The View from Another Planet: Textual Bibliography and the Editing of Sixteenth-Century Italian Texts’, Italian Studies, vol. 34 (1979), pp. 71-92; ‘Introduzione alla bibliografia testuale’, pp. 33-63, originally published with single quotes round the words ‘bibliografia testuale’ in La Bibliofilìa, vol. 82 (1980), pp. 33-63; ‘Edizione, impressione, emissione, stato’, pp. 65-88; ‘Il concetto di “esemplare ideale”’, pp. 89-103, originally published in Trasmissione dei testi a stampa nel periodo moderno. I Seminario internazionale, Roma, 23-26 marzo 1983, a cura di Giovanni Crapulli (Roma, Edizioni dell’ateneo, 1985, pp. 49-60). Though strictly speaking the work was not produced as an introductory manual, at the time of writing it is the work of scholarship that best serves this purpose available in Italian. The choice of title has meant that in Italy ‘analytical bibliography’ goes under the name of ‘bibliografia testuale’, despite attempts by scholars, including Fahy himself, to offer a more precise definition.
  • L’«Orlando furioso» del 1532. Profilo di una edizione (Milano, Vita e pensiero, 1989). Exemplary study of the 24 surviving copies of the definitive edition of Ariosto’s masterpiece, collated with a control copy on transparent xeroxes, which identifies and analyses 287 textual or punctuation variants introduced while the book was under the press, as well as a cancellans leaf identified in 1903. Fahy’s most striking discovery involves the three large paper copies, which, with exception of one variant where their readings differ, can be shown to have gone through the press only after the formes had received their final correction. On Fahy’s research, with further evidence relating to the one troublesome variant, see also Neil Harris, ‘Filologia e bibliologia a confronto nell’Orlando Furioso del 1532’, in Libri tipografi biblioteche: ricerche storiche dedicate a Luigi Balsamo, a cura dell’Istituto di Biblioteconomia e Paleografia dell’Università degli Studi, Parma (Firenze, Olschki, 1997, vol. 1, pp. 105-122).

Lists of Fahy’s writings can be found in two volumes published in his honour: see Book Production and Letters in the Western European Renaissance: Essays in Honour of Conor Fahy, edited by A. L. Lepschy, J. Took, D. E. Rhodes (London, The Modern Humanities Research Association, 1986); Bibliografia testuale o filologia dei testi a stampa? Definizioni metodologiche e prospettive future. Convegno di studi in onore di Conor Fahy, Udine, 24-25-26 febbraio 1997, a cura di Neil Harris (Udine, Forum, 1999). The latter repeats and extends the previous listing with some changes of detail.

The Italian reception of Fahy’s teaching has been positive, though the message has certainly travelled farther in the world of library cataloguing than in that of textual scholarship. As far as the latter goes, a significant event was the translation of essays by Greg, Gaskell, Tanselle, Bowers, and Fahy in an anthology edited by Pasquale Stoppelli; see Filologia dei testi a stampa (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1987). Likewise the most authoritative and widely used university manual of Italian philology by Alfredo Stussi, Introduzione agli studi di filologia italiana (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1994), draws attention to the importance of bibliographical analysis for textual purposes. A collection of ‘classic’ essays, put together by Stussi, in its second edition contains a specially commissioned piece by myself; see ‘Filologia dei testi a stampa’ in Fondamenti di critica testuale, a cura di Alfredo Stussi (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1998, pp. 301-326). A similar collection of essays (with items by Conor Fahy, Neil Harris, Paolo Trovato, Gustavo Bertoli, Giovanni Biancardi, Antonio Sorella), destined for university courses in editing Italian texts, is Dalla ‘textual bibliography’ alla filologia dei testi a stampa, a cura di Antonio Sorella (Pescara, Libreria dell’Università Editrice, 1998 [also issued as a preprint with the title La ‘textual bibliography’ e la filologia degli antichi testi italiani a stampa]). A work which looks at Anglo-American tradition, finding instructive and intriguing parallels in the erudite Italian practice of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth century, is Carlo Maria Simonetti, Un ostico oggetto di desiderio: introduzione alle discipline del libro (Manziana, Vecchiarelli, 1997).

Another figure who has consistently delved into the history of Italian printing and solved hundreds of problems in a myriad of short, pithy articles is Dennis E. Rhodes, who, despite retirement from the British Library, remains extremely active. For a listing of his output of nearly five hundred books, articles and reviews, see The Italian Book 1465-1800. Studies presented to Dennis E. Rhodes on his 70th Birthday, edited by Denis V. Reidy (London, The British Library, 1993), and Metodologia bibliografica e storia del libro: atti del seminario sul libro antico offerti a Dennis E. Rhodes, a cura di Alessandro Scarsella, Miscellanea Marciana, vols. 10-11 (1995-1996 [but 1997]).

Slightly off the beaten track as far as analytical bibliography is concerned, but of considerable importance from the point of view of historical bibliography, are a series of studies conducted by Paolo Trovato and Brian Richardson on the treatment of texts by Italian Renaissance correctors and editors, especially in Venice. For the former, see Con ogni diligenza corretto. La stampa e le revisioni editoriali dei testi letterari italiani (1470-1570) (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1991), followed by a sometimes uneven collection of essays L’ordine dei tipografi. Lettori, stampatori, correttori tra Quattro e Cinquecento (Roma, Bulzoni, 1998); for the latter, see Print Culture in Renaissance Italy: The Editor and the Vernacular Text, 1470-1600 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), and the successive, more orientated towards university students, Printing, Writers and Readers in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Dulcis in fundo. An example of descriptive bibliography, based on the model of the Principles slightly adapted to take account of the characteristics of the Italian Renaissance book, is provided in Neil Harris, Bibliografia dell’«Orlando innamorato» (Modena, Panini, 1988-91). Boiardo’s poem first appeared in two books in 1482, to which a third was added in 1495. Several of the early editions have totally disappeared, while a peculiarity of the work’s history is that Boiardo’s open ending saw his story being continued by other writers, whose efforts are listed and described here. One continuation is obviously excluded, or Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, first published in 1516, whose success meant that the linguistically imperfect Boiardo was revised and rewritten by others, most notably Francesco Berni. The original form of the text was only restored in 1830-31 by no less a person than Antonio Panizzi. Since self-promotion is the name of the game, I draw attention to two other recent essays by myself. First, the introduction ‘Il cappuccino, la principessa e la botte’, in Antonella Grassi – Giuliano Laurentini, Incunaboli e cataloghi delle biblioteche dei Cappuccini di Toscana (Firenze, Edizioni Polistampa, 2003, pp. 7-39), which examines a series of bibliographical problems uncovered in producing a catalogue of a thousand early printed books and includes an excellent series of illustrations showing the variants, including the six different title-pages for an edition of St. Augustine in 1584. Second, the already mentioned introduction to the Tanselle, Letteratura e manufatti (Firenze, Le Lettere, 2004), which adapts an important recent text of the American tradition to an Italian context (see §9). Both these last examples confirm, however, that in Italy the main interest for what can be learned from analytical bibliography is to be found among librarians and cataloguers.