Ars Epistolica Books

The book

Axel Erdmann, Alberto Govi & Fabrizio Govi

ARS EPISTOLICA. Communication in Sixteenth Century Western Europe: Epistolaries, Letter-writing Manuals and Model Letter Books 1501-1600, with an Introductionby Judith Rice Henderson, Lucerne, 2014.

Size: 28 x 22 cm.
Full cloth with dust jacket. XXV, 771 pages. 
With numerous illustrations in the text.

The volume is divided into two parts: 

  • The first part contains descriptions of a collection of 171 works printed between 1501 and 1600 and has three sections: a) Letter collections by single authors and anthologies; b) Letter-writing manuals; c) Model letter collections, fictitious letter collections and some letter collections by 15th century authors (mostly schoolbook editions printed in the 16th century). This section, in which are listed over 30'000 letters, has at the end a full index of authors, editors, senders, recipients, places, and names.
  • The second (bibliographical) part contains finding lists of all epistolaries and letter writing manuals published in the 16th century, as well as a comprehensive, up-to-date list of secondary sources also with a detailed index.

The collection, which is for sale as a whole, contains correspondences by Aretino, Ascham, Bembo, Budé, Calvin, Caro, Doni, Erasmus, Franco, Gesner, Guevara, Giovio, Lipsius, Luther, Manuzio, Mattioli, Melanchthon, More, Muret, Paleario, Pasquier, Ramus, Sadoleto, Scaliger, Tasso, Vettori, Vives, Zucchi, just to mention a few names.

To the modern scholar and reader, however, the collection shows an incredibly wide and intricate network of communication covering the whole of Western Europe and also penetrating the Eastern regions. This is particularly evidenced by the two comprehensive indices: one containing the many thousand senders and recipients, the other covering the name of the places from where the letters were sent. Scholars from Poland corresponded with fellows in Sicily and Portuguese humanists with those of Hungary. Who would not be surprised to find in the correspondence of Taddeo Duno, an Italian exile in Switzerland, letters to and from the great mathematician and physician Girolamo Cardano; or in the correspondence of Justus Lipsius letters to Michel de Montaigne and to Marie de Gournay, the latter's fille d'alliance?

Moreover letters did not only satisfy curiosity for the private and personal, but the here displayed published correspondence of over 30'000 letters, also includes a huge range of fashionable and current questions in social, political, religious and scientific discourse, giving an incredibly multifarious insight into a whole century of history, local and nationwide, more or less reliable. Thus, the ‘familiar' (private) letter, could be seen today not merely as a vehicle of personal communication, but brings the reader also closer to the daily life at the court of a prince or in the household of a humanist.


Cover price € 150,00

ISBN 978-3-033-04329-9