Dialogo di m. Lodovico Dolce, nel quale si ragiona del modo di accrescere, et conservar la memoria

Autore: DOLCE, Lodovico (1508-1568)

Tipografo: eredi di Melchiorre Sessa (Colophon: Enea De Alaris)

Dati tipografici: Venezia, 1575



8vo (149x92 mm). 118, [2] leaves. Collation: A-P8. Leaves P7 and P8r are blank. Printer's device on title page. Register and colophon a l. P8v. With 23 half- and full-page woodcut illustrations in text. Nicely bound by Capé in large-grain red morocco gilt, inside gilt dentelles, marbled endleaves, gilt edges. On the front pastedown and flyleaf double bookplate of Isidoro Fernandez and another bookplate of Lluis Escobet. Isidoro Fernández (1878-1963) was a book collector from Barcelona and a friend of Antonio Palau y Dulcet, who mentions him in his Memories (Barcelona, 1935); he bought most of his volumes in Paris, having them bound by the leading French and sometimes Spanish bookbinders of the time such as M. Michel or E. Burgalla. Outer lower corner of the last leaf repaired with no loss, a fine copy.


Second edition after the first printed by Sessa in 1562. A third edition appeared in 1586.

“Ludovico Dolce, the ready purveyor of literature likely to be popular, wrote the preface for the collected edition of Camillo's work (1552), which included L'Idea del Theatro, […] Ten years later, Dolce came out with a work on memory in Italian, very elegantly expressed in the fashionable dialogue form, modelled on Cicero's De oratore; one of the speakers is Hortensio, recalling the Hortensius in Cicero's work. This little book has a surface of Venetian Ciceronianism in the volgare, classical rhetoric in Italian, which is exactly the style of the Bembist school to which Camillo had belonged… But what is this modern-looking dialogue on memory by Dolce, the admirer of Camillo? It is a translation, or rather adaptation, of Romberch's ‘Congestion'. The crabbed Latin of the German Dominican is transformed into elegant Italian dialogues, some of his examples are modernized, but the substance of the book is Romberch. We hear in the dulcet tones of Dolce's ‘Cicerorian' Italian the scholastic reason why image may be used in memory. And Romberch's diagrams are exactly reproduced; we see once again his cosmic diagram for Dantesque artificial memory, and the antiquated figure of Grammar, stuck over with visual alphabets. Among Dolce's expansions of Romberch's text, is the one, mentioned earlier, in which he brings in the illusion to Dante as a guide to remembering Hell. Other expansions by Dolce are modernizations of Romberch's memory instructions through bringing in modern artists whose pictures are useful as memory images. For example… whilst recommending Dantesque imagery for remembering Hell, Dolce brings the memory image up to date by recommending mythological forms as painted by Titian” (F.A. Yates, Selected Works, Volume III, The art of memory, London-New York, 2001, pp. 163-164).

Ludovico Dolce, a native of Venice, belonged to a family of honorable tradition but decadent fortune. He received a good education, and early tried to maintain himself by the pen. He offers a good example of a new profession made possible by the invention of printing, that of the polygraph (‘poligrafo'); in other words, a man of letters who made a living by working for a publisher, editing, translating and plagiarizing the works of others as well as producing some of his own. Thus Dolce for over thirty years worked as corrector and editor for the Giolito press. Translations from the Greek and Latin epics, satires, histories, plays (Il Ragazzo, 1541; Il Capitano, 1545; Il Marito, 1560; Il Ruffiano, 1560), and treatises on language (Osservazioni sulla lingua volgare, 1550) and art (Dialogo della Pittura, 1557) followed each other in rapid succession. But he is today mainly remembered as the author of Marianna (1565), a tragedy from the life of Herod (cf. R.H. Terpening, Lodovico Dolce. Renaissance Man of Letters, Toronto, 1997, pp. 2-24).


Edit 16, CNCE17410; R. Mortimer, Harvard College Library... Italian 16th-Century Books, Cambridge, MA, 1974, I, no. 157 (1586 edition); L. Dolce, Dialogo del modo di accrescere e conservar la memoria, A. Torre, ed., Pisa, 2001; M.N. Young, Bibliography of Memory, Philadelphia, 1961, p. 91; Bibliotheca Magica, 391 (1562 edition).