On Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April 2016, the Department of Italian here in TCD is hosting the Society for Italian Studies Interim Conference ‘Turning Points: Cultures of transition, transformation and transmission in Italy’. To coincide with this, Professors Corinna Salvadori-Lonergan and Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin, in conjunction with the Department of Early Printed Books, have prepared an exhibition in the Long Room of some of our Italian treasures.
Ludovico Ariosto (1474 –1533) is best known for his romantic epic poem Orlando Furioso, which tells of the adventures of Orlando, Charlemagne and the Franks. On display are the 1516 and 1521 editions. The former is open at the frontispiece and first page of text; the latter shows a mishap in the rebinding of our copy – Canto CCXLIX now appears after the last page of the poem and the colophon (information about the publisher, which used always to appear at the end of a book).
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 –1375) wrote in the Italian vernacular and is noted for his realistic dialogue, which was unusual at that time. Displayed in the Long Room are the 1522 edition of his Decamerone, a collection of 100 novellas, open at the colophon, and a 1920 edition, beautifully illustrated by Thomas Derrick (1885–1954) showing the ten storytellers, each of whom narrates ten of the tales.
The greatest works of Durante degli Alighieri (1265-1321), generally known as Dante, were written in Florentine vernacular, thereby laying the foundation of what was later to be called Italian. We celebrated the 750th anniversary of his birth last year with this post and the Italian Department in TCD held this multi-lingual reading of Paradiso. His Commedia is universally recognised as one of the main literary masterpieces of the world. On display are the 1472 and 1502 editions in Italian; the first complete translation into English by Henry Boyd,who graduated from TCD in 1776; two volumes of a limited edition English translation by Robert and Jean Hollander and illustrated by the contemporary German artist Monika Beisner; and La vita nuova translated by Dante Gabriel Rosetti (1828-1882) and illustrated by Evelyn Paul (1883 – 1963).