Orlando innamorato composto già dal signor Matteo Maria Boiardo conte discandiano, et rifatto tutto di nuovo da M. Francesco Berni

Autore BOIARDO, Matteo Maria (ca. 1441-1494)-BERNI, Francesco (1497-1535).
Tipografo Andrea Calvo
Dati tipografici Milan, 
Prezzo € 6800.00
Orlando innamorato

The copy of Charles d'Orléans, Abbé de Rothelin

4to (204x143 mm). [4], 262, [2 blank] leaves. Collation: [π]4 A-Z8 AA-KK8. Leaves KK7 and KK8 are blank. Text printed in italic type in two columns. Nicely bound in early 18th century French red morocco, panels within a triple gilt fillet, gilt spine with five raised bands, marbled endleaves, gilt edges. From the library of Charles d'Orléans, Abbé de Rothelin (1691-1744, his printed bookplate on the front pastedown and a label with the number 486). The copy later belonged to the bookseller and bibliographer Giuseppe Martini (his signature in pencil on the front flyleaf). First leaves slightly browned, small damp stain to the lower margin of the last 20 leaves. A very nice copy.

FIRST EDITION, dedicated by the typographer Andrea Calvo to Guillaume du Bellay on January 1st, 1542, of Berni's famous Rifacimento (reworking) of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato. Berni profoundly modified the structure of the original poem, Tuscanized the language, added forewords to the cantos, and inserted new verses into the text. His rewriting resulted in the addition of about two hundred and fifty octaves to the original poem (cf. H.F. Woodhouse, Language and style in a Renaissance epic: Berni's corrections to Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, London, 1982, pp. 237-238). However, the printed edition contains various spurious parts (about one hundred and sixty octaves), which have only been recently identified (cf. E. Weaver, The Spurious Text of Francesco Berni's Rifacimento of Matteo Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, in: “Modern Philology”, 1977, 75, no. 2, pp. 111-131).

The Giunta 1541 edition bears a false date and is just a reissue of the present edition. A second edition with some textual changes appeared in Venice in 1545 (cf. E. Weaver, ‘Riformare' l' “Orlando innamorato”, in: “I libri di Orlando innamorato”, R. Bruscagli, ed., Modena, 1987, pp. 123-133).

Francesco Berni was born in Lamporecchio, Tuscany, into a noble but poor family. At the age of twenty, better luck awaited him in Rome, where Cardinal Bibbiena, the Cardinal's nephew Angelo Dovizi, and Giovanni Mattia Giberti, Bishop of Verona and Datary to Pope Leo X, successively employed him. In the datary, however, he had found a hard taskmaster, who kept him at his correspondence all day long and would not countenance the buffooneries in which the young clerk took such great delight. Thus, in 1531, we find Berni at Padua in rapturous freedom, gaily bent on bandying insults with the notorious Pietro Aretino. Still, the autumn of the same year saw him back at his desk in the episcopal residence of Verona, penning letters with a reluctant hand. Not until 1533, when Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, who had engaged him the year before, made him a canon of the Florentine cathedral, did he find a position that pleased him. But that long dreamed of life, with its unbridled frolic and happy idleness, was not to last, for, becoming involved in the feud then raging between Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici, he fell victim to poison under very mysterious circumstances two years afterwards (cf. G. Giampieri, Francesco Berni, Fucecchio, 1997).

Only a few of Berni's works were published during his lifetime. After his death, however, many of his compositions were published, often together with those of his imitators. In 1546, the lay magistracy dedicated to suppressing blasphemy, the ‘Esecutori contro la Bestemmia' (a submission of the Council of Ten, created in 1537), confiscated all of Berni's works printed by Curzio Navò and his whole oeuvre was put on the Roman Index in 1559 (cf. J.M. de Bujanda & al., eds., Index de Rome: 1557, 1559, 1564. Les premiers index romains et l'index du Concile de Trente, Sherbrooke, 1990, p. 272).

Even Berni's most extensive work, the rewriting of Boiardo's chivalric poem, appeared posthumously. We don't know the reason why he failed to publish it: he was probably dissuaded by political-religious pressures or was hampered by his most bitter enemy, Pietro Aretino.

After the Sack of Rome in 1527, Berni followed Giberti to Verona and in the following years, until 1531, he worked on Boiardo's poem. A real remake, and not a simple refashioning, the Rifacimento evinces Berni's committment to a key genre of the time, the chivalric poem. The impact of Berni's personality on chivalric matter is sad and dark. The splendid and peaceful court that was the background of Boiardo's poetry becomes, in the reworking, “a den of ribalds and cannibals”. In the rewriting, the pessimistic and disillusioned side of Berni comes out in full – that of a protester of the world, no longer able to play his game on the level of laughter as in many of his other poems and instead inclined towards harsh outbursts and foul moods. Thus, nothing of the popular and satirical Berni is to be found in the Rifacimento, which on the contrary reveals his ambitions towards a sophisticated and traditional poetry. E. Weaver (Erotic language and imagery in F. Berni's ‘Rifacimento', in: “Modern Language Notes”, 1984, 99, no. 1, pp. 80-100) has also dismantled the common belief that Berni had filled Boiardo's poem with obscenities, demonstrating that his way of dealing with eroticism is simply part of the usual literary canons of the time.

Edit 16, CNCE5541; Adams, B-2315; Gamba, no. 161; OCLC, 38169349; N. Harris, Bibliografia dell'«Orlando Innamorato», Modena, 1988, no. 31 (a). Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Le edizioni del XVI secolo, II Edizioni milanesi, Milano, 1984, no. 720.

  • Orlando innamorato
  • Orlando innamorato
  • Orlando innamorato