The Italian Renaissance Book, and afterwards (in English)

The course concentrates on a number of “episodes” in the history of the Italian Renaissance book, which will also be closely linked to the practical sessions at the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.

To begin with the course will look at the passage from manuscripts to printed books in the Fifteenth century. Was it a seamless transition or a violent break with tradition?

Italian manuscripts were highly prized all over Europe at the time and as they have been ever since, and so the early printers modelled their work on these de luxe books. The change, however, was not just from the scribe to the printer; it was also from parchment to paper, from large books to small books, from few books to lots of books, and from Latin to vernacular. The impact on the way books were made and stored in libraries was far-reaching and had huge consequences for issues such as cataloguing and preservation.

Printing first appeared in Italy in the Benedictine monastery at Subiaco in 1465, but swiftly spread to Rome (1467) and to Venice (1469). By the 1480s Venice had developed a modern printing industry: one fascinating document is the Zornale of the bookseller Francesco de Madiis, who had a shop in the Rialto district and from 1484 to 1488 sold some 25,000 books. The ledger records the daily sales and the prices for every item, so that it is possible to compare them to books that have survived in today’s libraries.

The industry and our perception of the history of the Italian Renaissance book was radically changed by the figure and personality of Aldus Manutius, the quincentenary of whose death was celebrated in 2015. But what precisely did Aldus do? One answer is that he established canon or an education model that has lasted up to our own day.

By the Sixteenth century the Italian book and the Italian language were exported all over Europe, so that modern cataloguing projects have had to take account of the low survival rates of some texts and their widespread dispersal. The Edit16 project is widely admired, but it has its own complex history and employs devices such as the Fingerprint that have to be understood in order to be used effectively, while many early Italian editions present complex variants of state and issue that require bibliographical expertise for their interpretation.

Légende: F. Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Venezia, Aldo Manuzio, XII 1499 (BmL Rés Inc 1047)
Plan détaillé du cours: 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Morning: ENSSIB. Italian libraries from the Middle ages to modern times. - Organisation of the library network: state libraries, city libraries, and other libraries. - Advantages and problems of an abundance of early printed books – Renaissance collections of the Gonzaga, Este, and Montefeltro. - The Malatestiana Library in Cesena and the Library of St. Marks's in Florence. - The model of the chained library up to the Laurentian. - Verticalising the book in the Sixteenth century: causes and consequences. - Libraries as arsenals: the Angelica and the Ambrosiana.

Afternoon: Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. Italian Renaissance manuscripts and early hand-finished incunabula. Early printed books were produced by a process of mechanical writing and completed by hand with rubrication and illumination. The session looks at items in the library, comparing them to manuscript practice, but also seeing how the printed book swiftly created its own paradigms.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Morning: Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. The library has a rich Aldine collection, including two copies of the 1499 Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, as well as many examples of the octavo editions in italic type, imitated by Lyon pirate publishers. The session will look at Aldus' innovations in graphics and layout, the design of his types, and some of his extraordinary innovations, such as indexing, first introduced in the 1499 Perottus, of which the library also owns a copy.  It will also follow the development of the Aldine model through the Sixteenth century, both in the continuation of the firm under Paulo and Aldo junior, but also in his rivals and imitators, such as the Giunta and Giolito firms.

Afternoon: ENSSIB. Italy and its book-vehicled Renaissance. - The political and social history of Renaissance Italy. - Medieval culture, monasteries and the Catholic church; lay society and the impact of humanism. - Wealth, more wealth than you ever imagined. - The advent of the printing press and itinerant German printers. - Early printing in Rome: a publishing disaster. - Printing in Venice: from trial to triumph and the invention of modern publishing. - A publisher's notebook: the Ripoli Diary in Florence (1476-1484). - A bookseller's ledger: the Zornale of Francesco de Madiis (1484-88). - Warehouse inventories: Platone de' Benedetti (1497) and Niccolò da Gorgonzola (1538).

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Morning: ENSSIB. Aldus and the myth of Aldus. - The importance of being Aldus: what he did or didn't do. - The schoolteacher who founded a publishing dynasty (1494-1598). - The Aldine canon and its significance in the history of Western education. - Aldus' type: Roman, Italic, and the genius of Francesco Griffo. - Changes in paper sizes: playing with the shape of the book. - Printing in Greek: the technical challenge. - The launch of the enchiridia and the Lyon counterfeits. - The Aldine catalogues of `1498, 1503, 1513. - Aldine rivals: the Giunta dynasty.

Afternoon: Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon. Italian language and literature: the great writers. Italian is to all extents and purposes an artificial language invented by Pietro Bembo in the Sixteenth century. It drew on the model of the three great Tuscan medieval authors, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Its success owes much to the printing press and to the fact Renaissance writers, such as Ariosto, Sannazzaro, Castiglione, many of them dialect speakers in their homes, chose it as a model for their works. The session looks at editions of these authors, from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first century, and shows how they invented «la letteratura italiana», a term coined by Girolamo Tiraboschi in the Eighteenth century.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Morning: ENSSIB. Cataloguing projects for incunabula from the IGI to the ISTC. - Edit16 and the geography and history of Italian libraries. - The Vatican Library: a foreign body. - Applying the LOC Fingerprint and understanding what it tells you. - Factoring survival, destruction, and dispersal: the Italian chivalric romance and the list of Marin Sanudo. - Pulci, Boiardo, Ariosto: statistics of a publishing phenomenon. - Printing in other scripts: the Tipografia Medicea Orientale. - Italian books outside Italy: Iacopo Corbinelli and Giordano Bruno. - The history of collecting Italian Renaissance editions.

Afternoon: Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. Illustrated Italian Renaissance books. Italian Renaissance printing was also extraordinary for its achievement in producing illustrated books, both in technical fields, such as medicine and science,  as well as for the pleasure of the ordinary reader, such as in the Orlando Furioso. The medium was initially with woodcuts, but late in the Sixteenth century printers mastered the technique of inserting copper-plate engravings executed on a rolling press, for instance in the illustration of Galileo's earthshaking pamphlet, the Nuncius sidereus (1610). The session looks at a selection of illustrated works and relates them to repertories such as Essling and Sander.