Due dialogi della vergogna

Autore POCATERRA, Annibale (1559-1593).
Tipografo Benedetto Mammarelli
Dati tipografici Ferrara, 
Prezzo 1400.00
Due dialogi della vergogna

8vo (134x88 mm). 209, [31] pp. Collation: A-P8 (lacking the blank P8). With the woodcuts arms of Alfonso II, duke of Ferrara on the title-page and the printer's device at the end.Contemporary vellum, gilt title lettering on the spine, blue edges, very lightly browned, a fine copy.

FIRST EDITION (it was reprinted in 1607 with an anonymous biography of Pocaterra).
“The psychiatrist who listens in on Pocaterra's Dialogues is thrown into a heady experience not unlike that of an archaeologist who has stumbled into a treasure trove filled with artifacts that make us uncomfortable. It is a time capsule sealed in 1592, four centuries before the appearance of a readership ready and able to understand it. Books on shame are never easy to read simply because shame is the emotion responsible for privacy; within each of us, shame protects the borders of what we hide. In no era has a book on shame been easy to read. This one is not only the first ever written about shame, but a major, historically significant disquisition - a wide-ranging survey of embarrassment, humiliation, mortification, exposure, failure, and the experience of personal deficiency... Pocaterra, in his insistence that shame is a personal experience of unique form, intensity, and importance, demands that we know and feel each aspect of his subject, that we ignore as little as possible of what has so occupied him. I must assume that the entire subject of shame has made him uncomfortable enough to challenge the revealed truths of his era, motivating the author to make us uncomfortable at a personal level so that we will share his concerns. We are presented with a Socratic conversation between the philosopher Horatio Ariosto and his romantic young friend Hercule Castello, with the equally aristocratic Alessandro Guarino taking the role of a foil, intelligent but speaking as an unsophisticated student whose naiveté helps reduce Castello's embarrassment. Ariosto is nothing like the kindly modern therapist who might offer to assist Castello by reducing whatever emotional pain he carries; in this situation he functions more like an anatomist dissecting the muscles of a living specimen in order to demonstrate them to a theater of students. The die is cast in the opening moments of their interaction: Exposing the latter's secret infatuation with a local woman of Ferrara, Ariosto teases, taunts, and humiliates his subject into a variety of reactions each of which is a somewhat different form of shame, and each of which will in turn be discussed in detail” (W. Gundersheimer & D. Nathanson, eds., Annibale Pocaterra, Two dialogues on shame, Wolfenbüttel, 2013, pp. 7-8; see also W.L. Gundersheimer, Renaissance Concepts of Shame and Pocaterra's ‘Dialoghi Della Vergogna', in: “Renaissance Quarterly”, 47/1,1994, pp 34-56; andG. Ricci, Annibale Pocaterra e i «Dialogi della vergogna». Per la storia di un sentimento alla fine del Cinquecento, in: “Alla corte degli Estensi: filosofia, arte e cultura a Ferrara nei secoli XV e XVI”, M. Bertozzi, ed., Ferrara, 1994, pp. 43-75).

“I try to imagine the course of Western philosophy and culture had not Pocaterra died so young, had he been given the opportunity to write the many books that would have burst from his fountain. What if Due Dialogi della Vergogna had gone through as many editions as the De civilitate Morum Puerilium of Erasmus or the Galateo of Della Casa? What if shame had been understood, accepted, respected, rather than increasingly secret and shameful? What would psychoanalysis and the entire mental health movement be today had Freud grow up with an awareness of shame as sophisticated as that of Pocaterra?” (D. L. Nathanson, Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self, New York, 1992, pp. 445-46).

“The earliest treatise on shame was written by Annibale Pocaterra, born in 1562... Pocaterra wrote his book on shame at the age of thirty. His book was the only scholarly work on shame until Darwin wrote about it three hundred years later... In the beginning of the book Pocaterra tells us that 'in the end shame is a good thing, a part of everyday existence'. Shame, according to Pocaterra, makes us timorous, humble and contrite and causes outrage against the self. When we are attacked by shame, Pocaterra says we 'would like nothing better than to run and hide from the eyes of the world'. He also describes shame as the 'fear of infamy', which can lead a person to attack his enemy with passion. Shame is thus capable of both cowardice and bravery... Pocaterra posited that our emotions are innate and that 'they are only good or evil as the end to which they are used'. There is an innate and a learned component to all emotion. 'Therefore', Pocaterra writes, 'there must be two shames, one natural free from awareness and the other acquired'. Pocaterra understood shame to be our teacher, He thought the shame of children was like a seed that will become a small plant in youth and leads to virtue at maturity. Pocaterra looked at blushing as the external sign of shame and believed that blushing was both the recognition of having made a mistake as well as the de- sire to make amends. Three hundred years later Darwin would posit blushing as that which dis- tinguishes us from all other animals” (J. Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You, Deerfield Beach, FL, 2005, pp. 6-7).

Annibale was the son of Alessandro Pocaterra, an esteemed courtier at the Estense court, a protégé of Cardinal Ippolito II. and Duke Alfonso II. d'Este and a close friend to Torquato Tasso. His father sent him in 1570, after the terrible earthquake, to Modena, where he received his first instruction. Returned to Ferrara he studied under Flavio Antonio Giraldi, Girolamo Benintendi and Francesco Patrizi and graduated at the university in philosophy and medicine. In 1585 he obtained the chair of philosophy and was among the founders of two Ferrarese academies, La Ferrarese and the Accademia degli Umili. Pocaterra was also a talented poet, several of whose amorous stanzas were set to music by such madrigalists as Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Alfonso Fontanelli (cf. A. Newcomb, The Madrigal at Ferrara, 1579-1597, Berkeley, 1980, pp. 148-149). Torquato Tasso chose him as one of the interlocutors in Il Gonzaga Secondo, his dialogue on the theory of games (1582) (cf. G. Barotti & al., Continuazione delle memorie istoriche di letterati ferraresi, Ferrara, 1811, III, pp. 211-216).

Edit 16, CNCE 35904; Universal STC, no. 850028; Adams, P-1676; V. Cox, The Renaissance Dialogue: Literary Dialogue in its Social and Political Contexts, Castiglione to Galileo,Cambridge, 2008, passim and p. 213. 

  • Due dialogi della vergogna
  • Due dialogi della vergogna
  • Due dialogi della vergogna
  • Due dialogi della vergogna
  • Due dialogi della vergogna
  • Due dialogi della vergogna